Agricultural program looks to expand facilities


Courtesy \ TAMUC

Shawntae Teague, Staff Reporter

The A&M-Commerce School of Agriculture has seen steady growth over the past few years. According to Dr. Randy Harp, school of agriculture director, there has been a 54 percent increase in students as of 2014.

With such growth comes the need for expansion and improvement, both in educational offerings as well as the facilities.

Last year the equine center underwent renovations, and more recently fencing improvements to the 1,800 acre farm and renovations to the swine farm have begun.

A plan to build a multipurpose exposition center and arena has also been proposed to Dr. Ray Keck, TAMUC president. Other possible plans include a pasture improvement plan, a meat processing facility, as well as a mechanics facility.

So far, only small steps have been made.

According to Harp, the overall goal is to build a larger presence for the agriculture program in Northeast Texas.

“That way students from this part of the state feel that they don’t have to go to West Texas A&M, Tarleton, or A&M in College Station,” Harp said. “They feel like they can come here and get a quality education.”

Harp said that in order to achieve that goal and to draw in more students, the School of Agriculture will need to continue its improvements and expand its physical facilities as well as its programs and faculty.

Like other departments, the School of Agriculture is short staffed. Harp said the problem is just another step to overcome to reach the goal.

“We must have had a good faculty and some good programs here over the past few years, or we wouldn’t have grown like we have. But when you always try to be bigger and better, you have to grow,” Harp said.

As far as growth in program offerings, the Agribusiness program is being expanded with a new minor in the works. A Master of Agricultural Business program, an ag leadership program and an Agriculture Education program are also being developed.

“It’s not just cows, plows, and sows,” Harp said, “it’s all about leadership and developing our young people.”

The university’s new additions like the new Nursing and Health Sciences building and the addition of Phase 3, the updates to the school of Agriculture will not only meet the needs of the current student body, but will facilitate further growth for the school as a whole.

“Much of what we have visions of, is just visions. But if you never have a vision you won’t get there,” Harp said.