Perspectives Online

Educational Innovation

In November, Dean Johnny Wynne (right) joined former N.C. State University Chancellor Joab Thomas and Marly Thomas as they toured the newly dedicated Thomas Hall, home of the College’s Microbiology and Genetics departments. (See the Story)
Photo by Marc Hall

In previous columns, I’ve mentioned the university’s strategic plan and its vision to transform lives and improve the human condition through innovation and discovery. One integral focus area is creating educational innovation — a commitment to producing adaptable, globally aware, creative thinkers and workers. In this issue of Perspectives, we put the spotlight on some academic programs and demonstrate how the College is fulfilling that vision.

“Creative Pedagogy” — another way of saying educational innovation — is the title of a feature about “Food Science and the Consumer,” an exciting and popular course from our Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences (FBNS). The title is also a reference to the university’s Gertrude Cox Award, which annually honors faculty for “creative pedagogy … in integrating new technologies into effective teaching strategies.” The 2009 award went to Dr. Keith Harris for activities he led to adapt the course as both an on-campus and a distance education class. In the story, Harris describes some of the unique and memorable classroom experiences he shares with his students.

Another innovative teaching effort has given CALS students in nutrition and soil agroecology classes the opportunity to give back to the community while learning. Dr. Julie Grossman of the Department of Soil Science and Dr. Suzie Goodell of FBNS engaged their students in service learning through community gardens and nutrition education initiatives in Wake County. Read about this educational experience in the feature “Learning Through Service.”

Creative and distinctive educational activities in and out of the classroom are reported in articles about two teams of students who developed nationally award-winning food products while solving technical challenges and meeting consumer market demands; a student-driven campus farmers market, designed to educate and help build a local food economy within the university; student and Extension efforts in educating the public about agriculture at the N.C. State Fair; and a CALS Career Services workshop for freshmen called “Who Will I Be?”

In research news, Dr. Dennis Brown and Dr. Raquel Hernandez of our Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry have found what appears to be a better way to accomplish genetic engineering, while our College Profile details the work of Dr. Alexandria Graves, who tracks causes of contamination in water bodies, soils and food. There’s the latest information about the cucurbit downy mildew forecasting project, along with news about our plant breeders’ efforts to develop corn, peanut, soybean and wheat varieties adapted to being grown organically.

New scholarship endowments, Extension-related international programs updates and alumni accomplishments are also among the news as we report our efforts in fulfilling the university’s strategic goals.

Johnny Wynne, Dean
College of Agriculture
and Life Sciences

Former Purdue agriculture dean named NCSU chancellor

As we go to press, the news has arrived that Dr. William “Randy” Woodson is the next chancellor of N.C. State University. Dr. Woodson comes to us from Indiana’s Purdue University, like N.C. State a public, land-grant university, where he has served as provost since 2008. An Arkansas native, he earned his bachelor’s degree in horticulture and chemistry at the University of Arkansas, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in horticulture/plant physiology at Cornell University. He came to Purdue in 1985 as a horticulture professor. He later served as associate dean of agriculture and director of agriculture research programs from 1998 to 2004 and as dean of agriculture from 2004 to 2008. I know our College community joins me in welcoming Dr. Woodson. Look for more about our new chancellor on the spring postings of Perspectives Latest News online. —J.W