The college’s five new strategic initiatives (Choice Voice)
(Editor’s note: Craig Beyrouty is the dean for University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.)
(Feb. 27, 2018) As a land-grant institution, and the cornerstone college of the university with our founding roots planted in 1856, we have always been focused on impact, on solving some of society’s most intractable and complex issues for the benefit of Maryland residents and beyond.
Irrespective of our tireless commitment, the college has had difficulty with perception and optics.
There were many looming questions as I began my tenure as dean: What are the college’s core areas of strength? What are the state’s greatest needs from an economic, social, and political standpoint, and how can we be the best partners to achieve optimal results? Why do students want to enroll in our college? What differentiates us from other institutions of higher education, and how do we message that to the public?
Here in the College of Agric-ulture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland, we have arrived at a pivotal moment in time.
We have planted a flag in five core areas, otherwise known as our strategic initiatives.
We aim to be national leaders in these areas, to be top of mind for prospective audiences when considering the greatest agricultural and natural resource challenges in the surrounding region.
We will communicate a shared vision to our constituency and demonstrate that we are here to serve the public in these very targeted ways.
With input from folks all across the state, we emerged with an inspiring and unanimous blueprint for our five strategic initiatives, informed by agreed upon trends, strengths, areas for improvement, operational needs, and core values.
They are as follows:
• Advance Innovative, Profitable, and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems
• Ensure a Clean and Healthy Chesapeake Bay
• Establish a Healthy Food System and Ensure Global Food and Nutritional Security
• Improve Human, Animal, and Environmental Health
• Optimize Urban Environments Through Design, Green Technology, and Community Engagement
There is no prioritization given to these areas. All are of equal weight. Within each of these are a series of sub goals that identify more specific calls to action.
To name a few, we aim to improve the health and well-being of populations by sharing knowledge of food production, processing, access, and consumption; develop stormwater management technologies to improve water quality; increase plant and animal productivity; decrease chronic diseases and diseases transmitted from animals to humans; and improve understanding of agriculture and environmental awareness in urban areas.
We will think big. We will allocate resources to attract new faculty and staff to help bolster our efforts in these areas.
We will re-evaluate the direction of our funding and development efforts, establish a robust set of training opportunities, and invest in new equipment and facilities. We will also focus on making sure we’re staying in lockstep communication with our residents and stakeholders. Communication is critical throughout this process.
We can’t be successful without external input and we’ve developed models through which groups across industry, commodity, government, and the general public can serve as an advisory body, helping the college’s initiatives realize long-term sustainability.
At the end of the day, we’ve done our job if our educational efforts allow Maryland families to enjoy a healthier meal, if we reduce the number of urban food deserts, if we preserve our treasured Chesapeake Bay, if we increase crop yields, or by implementing a succession plan for the next generation of agriculture and natural resource educators. These initiatives allow us to take action on a carefully curated set of priorities that serve only one purpose: to give residents the necessary tools to live healthier, safer, and more productive lives. We are still very interested in gaining feedback. We look forward to working with the community in the future to drive successful implementation of our initiatives.
If there is interest in joining our efforts as part of a more informal “network” advisory body around a particular initiative, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925