Perspectives Online

College programs prominent in chancellor's tour presentations

Chancellor James L. Oblinger brings news of N.C. State to an audience in Cumberland County.
Photo by Daniel Kim

N.C. State University's Chancellor James L. Oblinger went on the road this winter to introduce himself to the state's citizens and learn what they need from the university.

Early in his roll-out tour, Oblinger, former dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, visited several sites with ties to the College. His first stop was Robeson County's annual awards and recognition banquet, where Oblinger was accompanied by Dean Johnny Wynne of the College.

About 180 local guests attended the banquet, sponsored by Robeson County's Cooperative Extension center and the Robeson County Crop Promotion Association. The event recognizes achievements by the county's agribusiness industry.

Speaking to the crowd at the Robeson County center, Wynne described a number of ways that the College is actively supporting agriculture. He described how Cooperative Extension in Robeson County is working to help citizens with valued-added and alternative crops, such as organic soybeans and peaches. He also told about Extension education programs that are helping growers and landowners understand the tobacco buyout and the changing climate for timber sales.

"You know as well as anyone that agriculture is changing," Wynne told the crowd. "The tobacco buyout will affect how and how much growers are paid for their crop and will lead many growers to explore other options. Through research, extension and academic programs, our College is working to find new value-added and new alternative enterprises for agriculture."

The next week, Oblinger was on hand in Cumberland County for the official opening of an Industrial Extension Service office that will share space with the Cooperative Extension center.

IES, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, provides outreach assistance to industrial clients across the state.

George Autry, Cumberland County Extension director, said that sharing an office with IES was a great idea. "They'll give another dimension of support that N.C. State can provide," he said. Though the partnership was just beginning, IES was looking at services it could offer to area agricultural businesses, he said.

Later in the day, Oblinger visited the Wilson Chamber of Commerce, where he introduced himself to a packed room of local farmers, reporters and factory workers.

Appearing with the chancellor were Dr. Steve Leath, interim associate dean of the College and director of the N.C. Agricultural Research Service; Dr. Blake Brown, associate professor of agricultural and resource economics; and Dr. Peter Kilpatrick, head of N.C. State's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Brown and Kilpatrick described N.C. State's leadership on the 10-year tobacco quota buyout legislation and current research into biopharmaceuticals using tobacco.

"Our College is working to help emerging enterprises become successful," Leath said, citing Wilson County fish farmer R.C. Hunt and his successful Southern Farm Tilapia. Leath also explained that the College is helping the state's viticulture industry expand into vinifera grapes.

- Natalie Hampton, Anton Zuiker