*This story first appeared in The Budget’s April 18, 2018, Local Edition.
By Stacey Carmany
The newest bachelor’s degree program being offered by Kent State University at Tuscarawas is giving students the skills to succeed in a modern agricultural business.
Last summer, the regional campus announced the creation of a new Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness degree program designed to meet the growing demand for professionals and entrepreneurs in an industry that is rapidly changing.
“This campus decided it was the direction it wanted to go in,” said Dr. Bradley Bielski, dean and chief administrative officer for Kent State University at Tuscarawas. “It was really the faculty who saw this as a real opportunity for the campus, given the agricultural nature of the area that we live in.”
As part of the program, the campus is now offering 14 additional upper-level courses designed to prepare students for success in the disciplines and activities that encompass modern-day food production.
“What we’re basically trying to do here is give you all aspects of agriculture, so what happens on the fields, what happens on the business aspect if one specific crop is used,” said Dr. Sankalp Sharma, an associate professor who was hired by the campus last fall to oversee the new program. “Most of my courses are
geared toward analytical aspects, the marketing aspects of particular crops or looking to see what’s going to happen to the price, time of harvest, what’s the total quantity in the market going to be, and then the best marketing strategies.”
The additional courses being offered include Farm Business Management, Agricultural Finance, Farm Income Tax Management, Agricultural Price Analysis, Agricultural International Trade Policy, and Agricultural Environmental Law.
The classes were offered at the local campus for the first time last fall, and there are plans to expand the program to include students from other campuses.
“Some of the other campuses are interested in participating in the pro- gram, so next year we are going to be effectively broadcasting some of the courses live to those campuses,” Dr. Bielski shared. “Dr. Sharma will be teaching a group of students on our campus from our campus but we’ll also have students maybe from Trumbull and the Burton campus and maybe the Salem campus all at the same time. It allows students in those other areas who are interested in that degree program to have access to these classes.”
To complete the program, students must complete a minimum of 120 credit hours of required coursework that includes the 14 new courses, business courses and other university-required courses.
There’s also an internship component designed to give students hands-on experience. “One of the goals is just making sure you’re getting pushed toward the job market, and the other is just getting the experience and hopefully you are able to apply some of the skills that you learned in the program,” Dr. Sharma shared.
Dr. Bielski noted that the new program is not only a first for the Kent State University system but it is also one of the few Agribusiness degree programs being offered in the state. “It’s a unique program,” he said. “There aren’t many colleges and universities that have something like this program.”
Dr. Sharma shared that he is excited to be heading up the program, which represents the 11th baccalaureate degree option to be offered at the local campus. “I know that a lot of students here, they come from farming families, and we are hoping this kind of knowledge really helps them build their own operation better down the road,” he said.
A total of 13 students are currently enrolled in the program, which is expected to see its first graduates by the end of the Fall 2018 semester.
To learn more about the Agribusiness degree program or register for classes for the upcoming semester, contact the admissions office at 330-339-3391. Kent State Tuscarawas is located at 330 University Drive NE in New Philadelphia.