A Letter From Dr. Pond!

Dear Readers of the Buff Brief,


Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a chance to spend quality time with family and friends

during the holidays and had a needed break from the work/school routine.

The beginning of a new year is my favorite time.

I find it informative to reflect

on the previous year and then plan for the future.

Let’s take a moment to review 2023 and then look ahead to 2024.


Reflections and activities in 2023:

Entering 2023, we were concerned about the decline in enrollment in higher education, including declines at WTAMU. Our College had continued growth in the number of majors and

in the total number of semester credit hours (SCH) taught in our college.

In fact, during 2023, the College enrollment achieved the highest number of majors

and highest generation of SCH in our history.

The Department of Agricultural Sciences in now the largest academic department

serving undergraduate students in the University

and the College now generates more SCH than any college at WTAMU.


The majority of students enrolled in our College come from Texas, but we also attract

high quality students from out-of-state. Our student organizations and competitive teams

continued to perform extremely well with many being recognized at a national level.

The Buff Brief covered many of these student successes throughout the year

and previous issues are archived on the College website.


During 2023, we said farewell to several of our faculty

who helped set the trajectory of our success. We appreciate their commitment to our College

and University and hope they will enjoy their retirement and new adventures!


Also in 2023, we were fortunate to receive new funding from a Texas Legislative Appropriation

Request for Advancing Food Animal Production in the Panhandle. With this funding,

and other funding from the University, we will be able to hire more than twelve new faculty

and staff in the next few months. We were also fortunate,

with the help of Congressman Ronny Jackson, to be awarded a Congressionally Directed

Funding Grant to build a training center for educating students and the workforce

in the cattle feeding industry. In addition, Faculty continued to be successful

in obtaining/maintaining research grants and foundation support including

the National Science Foundation, the Welsh Foundation, CHS Foundation, USDA and others.


We are very thankful to our friends and donors to the College.

In 2023, we established an irrigation research and teaching farm on land donated

through the WTAMU Foundation’s Land Legacy Program.

In December 2023, we also received land donated through the Land Legacy program

for the site for a new Teaching and Research Beef Cattle Feedlot.


Five years ago, the balance of the College endowment was approximately $5 million

and the Paul and Virginia Engler Foundation began their annual $500,000 gift to the College.

A goal was set to increase the endowment to $15 million by 2025.

The Engler gift helped to create momentum across numerous donors that resulted

in the total endowment exceeding $15 million in 2023! Interest from the endowment

was used for supporting programs, professorships, chairs and scholarships.

Over $750,000 in scholarships, from the endowment,

were awarded to students in the College during 2023.


No matter how you measure success, 2023 was a highly successful year.


What is in store for 2024?

Enrollment continues to be of prime importance for WTAMU.

We are continuing to actively recruit students to our College and are expanding

the recruitment efforts for the sciences. We have also partnered with the Graduate School

to advertise our undergraduate and graduate programs in Texas and targeted states.

The online Master-of-Agriculture program is being advertised to attract county extension

agents and agricultural science teachers. We expect to have record enrollments in 2024.


To meet the demand for classes this spring, we have added new lab sections and expanded

class size. We are trying to find/create spots for those students on the wait list.

Some class size is now limited by the maximum size of the classroom.

It is very important to provide needed classes to students in order to continue our growth.


For several years, faculty have produced specialized notes and educational materials

to increase the quality in their classes. To further reduce the costs to students,

beginning in the 2024 fall semester, 1000 and 2000 level core courses

will have electronic textbooks provided by the University.

During the spring and summer of 2024,

details will be worked out to meet this university-wide goal.


Another University priority will be developing a legislative appropriation request

to obtain funding to build a new research building at WTAMU.

The availability of high quality research facilities limits our ability

to conduct research in several areas. Such a facility will help our WT125 goal

of becoming a research university to the Panhandle and beyond.

In 2024, the construction of the new Agri-life Research and Extension Center will commence

on Russell Long Boulevard. This TAMU System facility will greatly increase

the number of colleagues available for collaboration.


A rewarding, yet time consuming duty that will occur during 2024 will be the hiring

of more than a dozen new and replacement faculty and staff. Our challenge will be to grow

while maintaining our positive and collaborative culture. Hiring new faculty and staff

is one of the most important things we will do in 2024.

Thanks in advance for the efforts that it will take to find the right people

to join our College family.


Next week we will begin classes for the Spring 2024 semester.

We look forward to a great 2024 and hope you will support and follow

what is happening in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.

The Buff Brief serves as a great way to get a feel

for the many activities and successes in our College!


I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve as your Dean.

Hope you and yours have a great 2024.


Kevin Pond

Dean, Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences

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