Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
March 7, 1997

Extension changes in ag college begin next year

by Linda Charles
Faculty in the College of Agriculture will have more more flexible extension appointments under a new plan unveiled by Vice Provost for Extension Stan Johnson and Agriculture Dean David Topel during the March 4 Faculty Senate meeting.

The new plan will start to be phased in next fiscal year. Based on a process involving faculty and staff, extension field staff and clients, extension and agriculture college officials jointly will agree upon outreach "projects." Faculty, staff and others will be assigned to these projects. All faculty in the agriculture college may, at one time or another, end up working on the projects.

In the past, it has at times been unclear to whom extension faculty report -- extension or college administrators, Johnson said. The new system makes clear that faculty are responsible to the department chairs.

Another advantage of the plan, Johnson said, is that it will allow extension staff to tailor projects to the needs of the public and be flexible.

Many others have joined extension in the "business of education and information dissemination," Johnson said. "We have to reposition ourselves to meet the market and be flexible to accommodate changes."

Under the plan, all extension faculty and staff positions funded by departmental lines will be transferred to the College of Agriculture. Extension funds will be allocated on a project by project basis. The projects will be determined annually by extension and college faculty and staff, and must be approved by the departments and centers involved. Projects will be guided by extension programming priorities, faculty and staff capabilities and interests, and client needs, Johnson said.

The transition to the new system will take three to five years, Johnson noted.

Tenured extension faculty will negotiate with their departmental DEOs on their participation in projects. DEOs will need to take into consideration federal regulations for faculty who are on extension federal appointments, he said.

The program will be managed through a new associate dean for extension in the College of Agriculture. The college has associate deans for teaching and research.

Coordination with field staff and the college will be through the extension program leader for agriculture and natural resources.

"The real purpose of this is to improve (extension's) flexibility and to give greater participation to the faculty in the decisions about what the extension projects are," Johnson said.

Clients also will have input on projects, he said. For example, a project involving the Beef Industry Center would include in its definition representatives from that industry.

"This is going to be different from many of the other land- grant universities," Topel said. "Iowa State can be a leader as we restructure extension on campus."

Extension faculty in other colleges will continue to operate as they have in the past, although Johnson expects colleges voluntarily will adopt the new program, and he is actively negotiating with them on it.

The next senate meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 1, in 260 Scheman.

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