Few universities in these days of tight budgets and competition among programs are adding new faculty in their ag departments. Many have cut ag extension and research faculty.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, after several years of its own budget cuts and holds on hiring, has become the exception in a big way. UNL is strategically increasing its investment in agriculture and natural resources, and will hire three dozen new faculty, according to Ronnie Green, vice chancellor of the UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
"Those hires will come in subject areas filling workforce gaps critical to the global challenges of the future, including expanded and more efficient food production and improved water and natural resources management."
The world's population is expected to increase from about 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, and the challenges of feeding that population are significant, Green notes. As one of the world's leading agricultural producers, Nebraska is the epicenter of these issues, and its land-grant university must be there too, he adds.
Green also believes the move positions UNL to emerge as one of a handful of land-grant universities that will lead the way in solving the food-production needs of the future.
The 36 new positions, listed at http://ianrhome.unl.edu/web/ianr/growingianr, are primarily in the areas of science literacy, stress biology, computational sciences, healthy humans and healthy systems for agricultural production and natural resources.