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University of Idaho ag college combines departments

Combining food science faculty with animal and veterinary science faculty in new department to expand collaborative efforts.

A move to better align University of Idaho efforts with the state’s agricultural industry will combine animal, veterinary and food sciences research, education and outreach into one department, the university said in an announcement.

The Idaho State Board of Education in June approved the proposal from the University of Idaho College of Agricultural & Life Sciences (CALS), which took effect July 1. Eight food science faculty members joined 22 animal and veterinary science faculty to expand collaborative efforts and establish the new department of animal, veterinary and food sciences.

“Our efforts to expand our meat science education and research with the new Agri Beef Meat Science & Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard and the comprehensive focus of the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food & the Environment made the timing right for this move,” CALS dean Michael Parrella said.

“Creating this new department adds momentum to our efforts to enhance student opportunities and research capacity. This will help us better serve Idaho and its modern agricultural industry,” Parrella added.

The change reflected a joint decision by the University of Idaho and Washington State University in January to dissolve the Bi-State School of Food Science. The move will allow each university to refocus on its state’s priorities, the announcement said.

Students at both universities will continue to take classes on both campuses in food science for their undergraduate and graduate studies. The cross-listed classes offer students access to the expertise of both schools, which are 8 miles apart, the university said.

The University of Idaho decision will allow more focus on building stronger relationships with the College of Southern Idaho, College of Western Idaho and Brigham Young University — Idaho. Most of Idaho’s dairy, beef and food processing industry are in southern Idaho, whereas the University of Idaho is located in northern Idaho.

Idaho officials projected the realignment of faculty would improve opportunities for students. The proposal to merge departments set a goal of boosting enrollment in food science programs and external grant funding by 20%. The proposal also noted that the new department would operate with the same funding for faculty salaries and operating budget as before the move, the university explained.

“Our animal and veterinary science faculty members and our food science colleagues voted overwhelmingly to form the new department,” department head Robert Collier said. Collier served as animal and veterinary science department head and will continue to lead the expanded department.

“Shifts in federal research funding that favors larger, more complex and multidisciplinary projects will give the expanded faculty more chances to find new approaches to solving key issues and training students,” Collier said.

The University of Idaho is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, Ida., it serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and extension centers, plus extension offices in 42 counties.

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