Now that we’re several weeks into the fall semester it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that campus is a little more crowded compared to last year. It’s not your imagination.
This fall, OSU’s undergraduate enrollment hit an all-time high of 20,311. That figure includes 4,220 freshmen who are part of the university’s second largest freshman class ever, and 566 of them are making their home in CASNR.
In fact, the college’s total undergraduate enrollment of 2,878 students is the highest ever.
Just before the semester began, OSU held an orientation for new faculty, including three who joined DASNR.
Kevin Wagner, associate professor of plant and soil sciences and director of the Oklahoma Water Center, came from Texas A&M University, where he was associate director of the water center. He earned his master of science in environmental sciences from OSU before completing his PhD at Texas A&M.
Quisto Settle, assistant professor of agricultural education, communications and leadership, most recently fulfilled a faculty appointment at Mississippi State University and will be teaching and advising students in agricultural communications at OSU.
Darren Hagen, assistant professor of animal science, will serve in a research and teaching role in animal genomics, which combines the sciences of molecular genetics and bioinformatics to understand the heredity of animal traits. He most recently was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Missouri.
As excited as we are about welcoming these newest members to our DASNR family, it’s interesting to note it was the smallest gathering of new faculty the university has hosted in a long time. Budget reductions have consequences, but we remain optimistic we can build back some of the faculty capacity we’ve lost in recent years.
However, the robust student population and the smaller-than-normal number of faculty has presented us with a challenging dynamic in light of the current fiscal environment.
How do we maintain and, preferably expand, our ability to provide a world-class education to a growing number of students with fewer faculty and resources? There’s no easy answer to this question and we’re certainly not the only land-grant institution wrestling with such a dilemma.
I’m a firm believer we can serve more students with fewer resources by thinking carefully about our academic programs and the way we present materials for learning. We’re fortunate to have faculty who are committed to engaging students in the learning process, and our students seem well prepared to be actively engaged in their own pedagogy.
All that said, commitment to fully preparing our students through thought-provoking experiences in and out of the classroom is unwavering. I also know our faculty – and staff – are up to the challenges and will face them with commitment and creativity.
So, despite having a little less elbow room around campus thanks to all the new faces, I’m excited about our future and I hope you are, too.