their specializations, because their students and clientele would be better able to access the courses and knowledge bases of other colleges in other states. Increased specialization and collaboration would also reduce unnecessary replication of programs within the national system. In the Profile report, data collected from the LGCAs indicate that for undergraduate degrees in 1992 the LGCAs together offered (as selected examples) 13 programs in poultry science, 92 programs in general and specific fields of animal sciences, 35 programs in agronomy, and 129 programs in general and specific fields of plant science, and 45 degree programs in agricultural economics (a program was included in the FAEIS data base if it granted at least one degree that year). At the doctorate level there were 50 programs in various animal science fields and 111 in plant science fields (Table 3-9, pp. 49–51, in the Profile report). In that same year LGCAs granted 230 doctorate degrees in animal sciences and 436 in plant sciences (Tables 3-7 and 3-8, p. 46, in the Profile report), an average of about 4 per program. The data also show that a relatively small percentage of the land grant colleges enroll a much larger percentage of the land grant students, suggesting that some programs may have too few students to support them effectively (Tables 3-3 and 3-4, p. 43, in the Profile report).2

Third, the future of smaller, less well-supported institutions may depend on a new geography and accompanying partnerships. The 1890 institutions and indeed many of the smaller 1862 colleges of agriculture play important roles in providing access to higher education for minority group students, young people raised in more remote rural areas, and residents of U.S. territories, although they may have small absolute numbers of students. The future of some such colleges, in an era of significant budget constraints, may hinge on their being integral components of a national system of colleges. In other words, they must be able to expand resources for both faculty and students through research and educational partnerships and links into other universities' programs, while strengthening their own unique specializations in higher education, outreach, and research.

Fourth, a new geography—an interconnectedness with other institutions and other parts of the country—offers both students and faculty the opportunity for broader exposure and, at the same time, expands access. Colleges of agriculture have been criticized for being too insular and too parochial in focus (Busch and Lacy, 1983; Hadwiger, 1982; Mayer and Mayer, 1974). Bridging and articulation agreements, faculty and student exchanges, collaborative research and educational programs, and distance learning opportunities expose students and faculty to new and different ideas, perspectives, values, and cultures, as well as new material. In a highly interdependent world and global economy for food and agricultural products, the ability of college graduates to operate in a climate of great diversity is an important and valued skill (Wall Street Journal, 1995). In a food and agricultural system that includes stakeholders with many different and, at times, conflicting interests and goals, a work force with broad exposure and an open mind is essential.

New arrangements are also needed that can bring about a stronger interface between the colleges and urban and suburban areas. As discussed above, agriculture is no longer an exclusively rural enterprise and yet the LGCA system's strongest connections continue to be, understandably, with rural communities (Warner and Christenson, 1984); this was expressly noted during the land grant committee's public forums held in the spring of 1995. A food and agricultural systems approach requires a better connectedness to consumers and consequently to the urban and suburban centers where most of them live.


While there is no widely accepted "rule of thumb" for the number of students a degree program must have in order to be viable or successful, there is some evidence that larger programs tend to receive higher quality ratings by experts. For example, Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States: Continuity and Change (National Research Council, 1995c), which ranked doctorate programs in 41 fields at 274 U.S. universities, reported that top-rated programs in most fields tend to have a larger number of faculty and more graduate students than lower-rated programs.

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