The university officially named the new agriculture program “The Haupert Institute for Agriculture Studies at Huntington University.”
Raymond Porter, Ph.D., will assume his responsibilities as the new director of agricultural studies March 9.
Porter made his first appearance at the university’s agriculture event Feb 18, which was hosted by AgriVisions LLC, a consulting firm that offers programs to leading agricultural organizations worldwide.
“My time at Huntington will be a shift for me from being a pretty much 100 percent researcher with some occasional teaching opportunities to be 50 percent teaching and 50 percent of the administration as the director of agricultural program,” Porter said.
Before coming to HU, Porter worked on his wild rice breeding research for twenty-five years. He has also served as a research associate for the University of Minnesota’s North Central Research/Outreach Center in Grand Rapids, Minn.
“It is a small enterprise,” Porter said. “I mean wild rice is not the same as the cultivated white rice. Wild rice is made in North America, and it is a much smaller crop and grown on fewer acres than white rice.”
However, the focus for Porter being the new director will mainly be course development.
“My understanding is that the faculty at Huntington have approved a curriculum with an agribusiness major with several different tracks,” Porter said. “There are seven of them that are planned. ”
“The first thing it’s just get everything up and running,” Mike Wanous, PhD., vice president of academic affairs, said.
Wanous also said that Porter’s job will involve setting up a student advisory counsel, making connections with the agribusiness committee so that students will have opportunities for internships and other kinds of experience, such as field trips and lab trips.
“Once I come in, my job will mainly be preparing courses and coordinating with the faculty who are already at Huntington and discussing with the Dean and other faculty who might be brought in, in order to provide the instructions that are needed for this new major, ” Porter said.
So far, the program has received funds from Ag Plus Inc., North Central Co-op Inc., and Lake O’Lakes Inc., Farmers Grain & Feed Company, the Huntington County Community Foundation and Farm Credit Mid-America.
“When you start a new program, there are a lot of expenses,” Wanous said. “So one of the things we need to do is to get some labs updated so that they can teach agricultural courses.”
When asked about the difference between university’s agricultural program and other competitions, Porter felt confident about running the program.
“The fundamental difference is that Huntington is a Christian university, and it also provides a Christian base,” Porter said. “And I think that’s rare. Not many Christian universities have agricultural programs. So this will be an exciting place for students to go and receive instructions from a Christian worldview perspective.”