NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is playing a major role in agricultural research, education and outreach in the nation, a senior U.S. federal government official said in Nashville Tuesday.
Krysta Harden, deputy secretary of Agriculture, in remarks before farmers, USDA and state agency representatives, as well as TSU students and faculty, said the University “is really committed” to educating young people about the importance of agriculture not only as a discipline but as a viable career option.
“We have a very hungry world, and it is going to get hungrier and bigger,” Harden said. “As such, we need wonderful institutions like TSU to provide the education and research, and folks like the residents of Tennessee to be able to produce more food.”
The Deputy Secretary, who spoke during a one-day visit at TSU, also met with senior University officials, including President Dr. Glenda Glover, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Mark Hardy; and Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resources.
Speaking to reporters, Harden described the partnership between TSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as “very rewarding and meaningful.” Although she joined the Department only few years ago, she said she is well aware of the relationship between the two.
“Our relationship with TSU goes far back not only in the areas of education, outreach and research, but in infrastructure that supports our mission and that of the University,” Harden said. “We thank you for this partnership.”
Highlighting the Deputy Secretary’s visit was a tour of the new 25,000 square-foot, $8 million USDA-funded state-of-the-art Agricultural Biotechnology Research Building on the University’s main campus. The building, expected to be dedicated in April, will provide laboratory space for more than 10 new Ph.D.-level scientists, research rooms for graduate students, and high-efficiency HVAC systems and laboratories.
“We see this as a remarkable investment in the future of this institution and its students,” Harden said during the tour, accompanied by Dean Reddy and officials of CAHNS.
Earlier in a meeting with other stakeholders including the Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, Julius Johnson, Extension workers and faculty of CAHNS, the Secretary announced that negotiations are almost complete on a long-overdue Farm Bill that will set new spending levels for some farming and agricultural priorities.
“Due to progress made so far, I am increasingly optimistic that a workable and effective Farm Bill will be approved by Congress in the very near future,” said Harden. “Passage of the bill will finally help bring some certainty to producers, their lenders, and others.”
In a presentation prior to the Secretary’s remarks, Dean Reddy thanked the USDA for its support and the continuing partnership between the federal agency and TSU. He pointed to the “sustained” growth in his college, including $55 million in research, 1,100 students, among them 150 paid graduate students, and an Extension program that serves 47 counties, up from 12 in 2007.
“Our research efforts have also expanded significantly,” Reddy said. “We have grown to about 100 faculty, 250 employees, and more than 1,000 students, while undergraduate enrollment has doubled in agriculture and allied fields, and the graduate enrollment in agriculture has increased seven-fold.”
He said the visit of Secretary Harden was a significant achievement for TSU.
“In addition to Secretary Harden, to have on our campus the Commissioner of Agriculture, the Farm Bureau representatives, different farm service organizations, and all the heads of USDA state agencies, including the Natural Resource Conservation Services; the Farm Service Agency, and the Rural Development Agency, at the same time is very significant,” the Dean said. “And for the Secretary to see first hand what we are doing, and talk to our students, faculty and staff, really helps and serves as an encouragement for all of us, and we are very thankful.”
Secretary Harden’s visit culminated with a luncheon with University officials, and federal and state agriculture officials, in the President’s Dining Area in Kean Hall.
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