Volume 13, Number 6 November 4, 2005

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College of Agriculture wants to modernize name

By Colleen MacPherson

After almost 100 years as a founding pillar of the University of Saskatchewan, the College of Agriculture is searching for a new name that will better reflect its contemporary mission and programs.

“I’m tired of needing to use words like ‘we’re about more than just agriculture’ and ‘this isn’t just about farming’,” Dean Ernie Barber told On Campus News last week. “We need to have a name and an array of academic programs and research activities that say what we are.”

By Barber’s definition, the college is about agriculture, but also “about the importance of sustainability of farming and about a whole host of other applications … that produce the things people need. It’s about the responsible use of renewable resources” in forestry and agri-forestry, ecological preservation, conservation of biodiversity and non-timber forest products.

The college today, he said, “is where plants, animals and micro-organisms are all being brought together in a way that speaks about sustainable development. The single word ‘agriculture’ doesn’t portray the inclusive nature of our mission.”

The search for a new name began about 18 months ago with a name review committee looking at how this situation has been handled by other faculties, Barber said. That group found the addition of words like ‘environmental science’, ‘food’, ‘natural resources’ and ‘life sciences’ in new names, but no obvious pattern. One recent name change took place at the University of British Columbia, Barber said, where the College of Agricultural Sciences is now the College of Land and Food Systems.

In the end, the committee recommended a change but was unable to recommend a new name. Barber added that “personally, I’m not keen to having a name with a bunch of ‘ands’ in it.”

“Naming is a very, very important thing,” he went on. “When you’ve been around for almost 100 years, when you’re one of the founding colleges of the University, when you’re a leader in Canada and in a province where agriculture is still such a big piece of our way of being, when you have as many alumni as we do, it’s a lot harder to change a name. At the same time, we want to let the world know the University of Saskatchewan is not backing out of its commitment to agriculture.”

The search for a new name will continue with the completion of a document describing the college’s mission and the design of a process what will address, among other issues, what role external stakeholders will play, and when. “I can’t imagine doing this without external consultation.”

The Board of Governors and University Council will both need to approve the change “so this could be dragged out a bit, but I’m not talking about years. I don’t think it will be helpful to have a very protracted debate on this.” Barber wants to see the new name in place by this time next year.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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