Jim Graham, 1942 graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will retire at the end of this year after 36 years as North Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture. We are pleased to share with you, in this issue, an intriguing interview with this legendary man who has meant so much, for so long to the state, the College and to the university.
From his unparalleled perspective, the commissioner takes a forward look at where agriculture is going, at the issues he believes will have most impact on North Carolina agribusiness and the citizens of the state, at areas where his successor’s strong leadership will be essential.
It’s a unique vision the commissioner offers of the dynamic agricultural landscape that has been fashioned in large part by the ongoing collaborative work of the College and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. I hope you enjoy reading Commissioner Graham’s take on the accomplishments of years past, the challenges ahead and the research areas he feels will be central to agricul-ture and life sciences in years to come.
The feature “The Farm of Tomorrow” takes its cue from the commissioner’s list of the initiatives that will revolutionize farming as it details the advances that our research and extension personnel will be refining and sharing with agriculture professionals. The future holds new techniques in integrated pest management, conservation tillage and precision farming. The time will come when farmers routinely and comfortably will consult software to decide when to apply herbicide. It may be a millennium when genetic pathways lead to fields where corn, cotton and soybeans produce oils, antibiotics and rubber.
As the College progresses into that new century, crucial to the future of its teaching and research activities are the laboratories and classrooms in which we teach our students. In mid-March, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox led a group of state lawmakers, officials and members of the university’s Board of Trustees on a tour showcasing some of the most critical building and facility needs on campus, part of a statewide series of tours to acquaint lawmakers with the needs of all 16 UNC system campuses.
The College’s Gardner Hall and David Clark Laboratories were prominent in the tour of buildings whose obsolescence and space shortages illustrate the critical need for funding so that they may function as 21st century educational facilities. In the feature “Wonderfully Functional,” Gardner likewise provides example of how investment in renovation of such structures can be sound and successful. The article details the collaborative effort between the Botany and Zoology Departments to transform an old zoology classroom into a state-of-the-art video microscopy and imaging teaching laboratory that gives students access to sophisticated technology heretofore available primarily to research teams.
The Geographic Information Systems Education Laboratory, in Williams Hall, is featured next as another example of the possibilities of renovation and the importance of meeting the needs of the students who will be the scientists of the next century. The final feature then turns to the work that goes on within the classrooms: Bryce Lane, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Horticulture, offers his view on how teaching will — and will not — change in the century to come.
Accompanying these stories are reports on current events, innovations and things to come in academics, research and extension that affect and are of interest to our alumni, students and clientele. Please join us in looking forward.
Dean, College of Agriculture
and Life Sciences