College of Agriculture & Natural Resources

AGNR Academic Programs 5-Year Strategic Plan

Click here to download Academic Programs 5-Year Strategic Plan Revised.docx.

Vision

Our shared vision is to attract students seeking the finest science-based education leading to extensive career options through an increasingly dynamic and responsive Academic Programs Office within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR). Talented students, faculty, and staff will engage in a vibrant learning community in which its central tenants focus on food, animals, environment, and people.

Mission

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) Academic Programs Office provides comprehensive academic support, financial assistance and personalized outreach efforts in order to serve AGNR’s community of students, faculty and staff.  In addition, by utilizing highly effective business, administrative and student information systems, the office provides advocacy for the College’s academic departments and programs.

Strengths – Challenges - Opportunities

Strengths

  • Maintaining a highly skilled and creative staff committed to the mission and vision of the college and academic programs.
  • Providing excellent state-of-the-art facilities to enhance student centered learning.
  • Recruiting extremely talented students from a diverse set of backgrounds and interests.
  • Utilizing a business model of faculty advisers supported by well-trained and informed staff to provide an inclusive and supportive learning environment for all AGNR students.
  • Building strong collaborative networks across the University of Maryland campus as well as with University of Maryland Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Maryland 4-H.
  • Offering need-based and merit scholarships to talented first-time, full-time freshman; AGNR is one of only a few colleges on this campus with this ability.
  • Leveraging unprecedented access to a wealth of resources and human capital provided by our geographic location and relationships with University of Maryland Extension and Maryland 4-H.
  • Facilitating a strong sense of community among AGNR faculty, alumni, staff, students and prospective clientele.
  • Enabling visitors, prospects, and students access to our undergraduate services offices centrally located in a administrative building (rare on the UM campus),
  • Attracting key majors to the college due to the strong faculty and graduate programs in  AGNR.
  • Targeting students interested in careers in management of important agricultural enterprises by way of the Institute of Applied Agriculture’s (IAA)  excellent student centered teaching program

Challenges

  • Managing a wide array of responsibilities assigned to our relatively small number of staff in Academic Programs.
  • Convincing reticent faculty to commit the resource of time to recruitment activities.
  • Overcoming a less than desirable perceived image that persists among some who are unfamiliar with the academic rigor of AGNR curricula and career opportunities available to our graduates.
  • Developing a clear marketing message to new as well as traditional clientele throughout the Mid-Atlantic region to inform a broader audience about our program quality.
  • Increasing the exposure of middle and high school age students to the many opportunities available to graduates from our programs.
  • Rising tuition costs.
  • Limited budget for Academic Programs.
  • Correcting the continuing perception that AGNR has control over admissions and is turning away from the traditional agriculture clientele.
  • Reversing the persistent perception that students wishing a career in production agriculture can’t be served in AGNR.
  • Increasing the role of departments in delivering strength and success messages for their academic program areas.
  • Developing in VTMD a defined mission with respect to undergraduate education.
  • Convincing campus to award resident credit for IAA courses
  • Providing constant monitoring for maintaining our web resources with timely, easily retrievable, and accurate information sought by clientele.
  • Providing career information resources specific to the needs of AGNR students to assist them in making a smooth transition from student to employee or graduate student.
  • Securing long-term donor commitments for providing sufficient scholarship support to deserving AGNR students to offset increasing educational costs.

Opportunities

  • Develop partnerships with both public and private external organizations to advance and showcase opportunities in AGNR.
  • Develop partnerships with teachers, principals, and counselors who can identify talented high school students with an interest in science and technology.
  • Work with faculty to develop ‘agriculture discover’ programs for high school students and science teachers.
  • Increase the enrollment numbers of under-represented student groups.
  • Increase faculty and staff participation with Academic Programs events and activities.
  • Create new programs to attract talented high school, transfer, and graduate students.
  • Increase the role of departments in delivering strength and success messages for their academic program areas.
  • Demonstrate an array of career options for graduates in each of our majors.
  • Increase active recruitment of exceptional community college transfer students.
  • Create a specific role for VTMD in the undergraduate curriculum to expand learning opportunities for students.
  • Continue developing IAA courses that meet institutional requirements and can be applied to 4-year program transcripts.
  • Expand international study abroad opportunities.
  • Seek financial assistance for study abroad.
  • Increase participation in the Certificate for International Agriculture and Natural Resources program.
  • Seek assistance from college faculty who have international connections to advise on developing international programs for our students.
  • Develop online student focused classes for the global community.

Moving Forward

Enumerated below are a number of initiatives and strategic actions that represent both long and short term approaches that capitalize upon our existing strengths.  In doing so, AGNR will be the college of choice for those wishing to effect change in a global society with an education providing the wisdom, capacity for critical thinking, and skills to identify, analyze and solve problems in the tradition of a first-class land grant university.  Our college will be recognized among our peers within the university as having a demonstrated commitment to human development, scientific excellence, and a sustainable future in an increasingly technological society where our graduates are sought after by private, public, government, and international agencies.

Academic Programs will be acknowledged beyond our campus boundaries as a leader in engaging talented students in a vibrant learning community.  We will be recognized within our college by students, administrators, faculty and staff as administrators of rigorous, effective, and pertinent curricula and providers of the very best in guidance, services, and opportunities for our students.

Initiatives

A.  Increase public awareness of our academic program offerings.

In order to raise the visibility and showcase the quality of our programs, we will develop workshops, seminars and other special programs that inform, publicize and educate citizens about the quality and breadth of academic program offerings by the college.  These programs must show relevance to a modern world and be attractive to citizens who are not familiar with the extensive career opportunities available to graduates from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Through collaborations involving students, staff, faculty, and stakeholders, we will create learning environments that excite and attract some of the most talented students from Maryland, the nation and internationally.  These programs will nurture their interests in biological and social sciences and will also expose them to rewarding career possibilities in food, natural resources, environment, and resource economics.  Over a five-year period, total college enrollment should increase 20 percent from these cohorts: FTFT freshman, internal transfers, and external transfers.  This increase will bring the total undergraduate enrollment to around 1500 students.

Strategic actions:

  1. Create a summer discovery program similar to Ag Discovery for high school students and/or teachers.
  2. Create an AGNR section for Science Fair competitions within high schools that would allow high school students to develop an early appreciation for science discovery in agriculture and natural resources.
  3. Create a bridge program with Maryland community colleges and support the application process by providing advising and application review support for community college students interested in AGNR programs.
  4. Create an Academic Programs electronic newsletter for distribution to all AGNR stakeholders.
  5. Seek professional guidance in developing a sound marketing plan for AGNR academic programs with appropriate college support.  From that plan develop staffing recommendations as needed.
  6. Increase faculty participation in high school visits.

B.  Strengthen College and University Partnerships

AGNR is part of a large and diverse land-grant campus which offers students a broad variety of curricular and co-curricular activities and events.  In essence we are part of a large vibrant community in which we must actively participate along with our students so as to enhance the overall college experience.  Our college also has an additional dimension manifested in community outreach and extension.  We must strengthen and enhance collaboration and partnership through this valuable resource that extends to every county in the state and Baltimore City.

Strategic actions:

  1. Increase interaction with University of Maryland Extension to identify and engage potential new students enrolled in their non-formal programs.
  2. Increase relationships with Maryland 4-H to identify and partner with students engaged in 4-H projects.
  3. Create an Academic Programs Faculty Advisory Panel.
  4. Continue to partner/collaborate with faculty and raise AGNR participation on advisory committees for campus programs such as Admissions, Honors, College Park Scholars, Gemstone, student honor council, etc.
  5. Encourage faculty and staff to create new courses for university programs, (e.g. Gen Ed, I-Series, Gemstone, Honors, CORE, UNIV and Honors), that inform the campus community about the unique nature of and innovation in agriculture and natural resources.
  6. Encourage and solicit department level participation in recruitment planning and activities.

C.  Scholarship and Stewardship

College tuition costs continue to rise at an alarming rate placing a significant burden on families as they search for ways to finance a child’s education.  The situation is more acute for out-of-state students.  Whether in-state or out-of-state, many students choose to seek employment during the school year which can have a negative impact on their grades.  AGNR has a tradition of providing scholarship assistance to deserving students.  We will continue to seek new donors and to grow our endowed scholarship accounts through collaboration with the AGNR development officer.  We currently provide support to approximately 10% of the incoming freshman class and less than 1% of transfer students.

Strategic actions:

  1. Increase scholarship support for freshman and transfer students by 10% over the next five years in conjunction with our development office.
  2. Collaborate with college departments to explore creative ways to combine resources to provide more attractive scholarship packages.
  3. Work collaboratively with college development officer to identify private and corporate potential donors.
  4. Secure funding for co-curricular activities for all AGNR students by developing grant funding.
  5. Increase scholarship support for travel and study abroad activities.
  6. Expand college and departmental support to provide lab internships (e.g. using the JIFSAN model) that place students into paid research opportunities that compliment their courses of study and better prepare them for graduate/ professional schools.  Use these as adjuncts to scholarship offers to admitted students.

D.  Student Services and Support

We must continue to provide superior academic, career, and administrative services to all AGNR students. We will continue to improve and expand our ability to disseminate information about internships and career opportunities, as well as co-curricular activities and events, via electronic and other delivery systems.

Strategic actions:

  1. Increase graduation and retention rates of AGNR students by ensuring that all undergraduate students have four-year plans in place by the end of their freshman year.
  2. Expand cross-training initiatives among Academic Programs staff to provide more efficient services to students, faculty, and staff.
  3. Expand Student Services through increased use of electronic resources and through peer mentoring and advising.
  4. Expand international opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students through greater collaboration with the study abroad office, the career center and departments.
  5. Expand internship opportunities by working in a coordinated framework with departments, alumni, and the career center.
  6. Support and encourage innovative curriculum design by AGNR academic departments.
  7. Expand opportunities for exposure of undergraduates to participate in research guided by faculty mentors.
  8. Explore opportunities to expand services to graduate students.
Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2017.