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100 years of citizen education

CANR plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the cooperative extension service in the fall

By Julia Werth
On March 3, 2014

This coming fall UConn's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Cooperative Extension Service along with all other land grant colleges across the United States. 

"Cooperative Extension is what distinguishes land grant universities, it gives us a direct connection with the citizens of the state," Dr. Gregory Weidemann, the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said. 

Since it began in 1914 with the Smith-Lever Act, the goal of the program has been to provide citizens non-credit education and information that meets their needs, whether it is in the field of agriculture, sustainability, economics, nutrition or another area of importance to the average citizen. 

"The idea is to take the resources and knowledge we have out to the people of Connecticut," Weidemann said. 

And those resources and knowledge will only be expanding in the years to come. 

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has seen a dramatic increase in their enrollment over the past few years, making them the second fastest growing college or school on campus. 

Although this increase certainly poses challenges such as larger class sizes and more strain on undergraduate advisors, "as a dean, more kids is always better than not enough," Weidemann said. 

To ensure that the school is able to handle the influx of students, 14 new faculty members spread across the different departments will be joining the college in the fall. 

Seven of these hires are replacements for the seven faculty we have retiring this spring, but the other seven are part of the university-wide faculty hiring initiative which aims to reduce the student-faculty ratio. This program is part of the reason for the increased rates of tuition over the past couple years. 

"I am very pleased with these hires, they will help us to better serve student needs," Weidemann said.

The college is also hoping to expand in terms of the departments they offer by adding the Department of Kinesiology. Currently, the department is part of the Neag School, but because the related departments of nutrition and allied health are part of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, this change makes perfect sense. 

"It has a better synergy and fit in our college," Weidemann said. 

Although to the average person, none of these departments seem to really fit in with the theme of Agriculture and Natural Resources, many agricultural colleges and schools across the country contain food, health and environmental-related departments. 

Even though it is the norm, UConn's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources may be known as something different in the near future. 

"Nothing has been approved yet, but we have been discussing changing our name to better highlight the variety of departments we offer, especially the health related sciences," Weidemann said. 

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