Bumpers College advisory board focus on workforce needs

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 138 views 

The Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas has formed a Dean’s Executive Advisory Board to help the college form a strategy to help meet the workforce development needs of students.

Advisory board members recently met for the first time.

Board members present for the initial meeting included Jim Craig of Stratton Seed Co., Monty Henderson of George’s Inc., Katie Howe of Walmart, Boyce Johnson of Boyce Johnson Farms, Matt King of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, Mandy Kordsmeier of Sam’s Club, farmer Kyle Moery, Russell Tooley with Tyson Foods Inc., John Werner of White Commercial Corp. and farmer Elizabeth Walker.

The “Visioning Board” is a leadership committee made up of Bumpers College alumni, and the employers and potential employers who hire them. The purpose of the board is to serve as a sounding board and to offer insight, suggestions and plans regarding initiatives, efforts and curriculum in serving the needs of students, alumni, friends and businesses.

The board also serves as an advocate for the Bumpers College, supporting programs, student recruiting, partnerships and funding opportunities; and provides networking opportunities to assist in addressing the needs of employers and potential employers.

“I am so excited about the opportunity and the possibilities in working with our Visioning Board,” Michael Vayda, dean of the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas, said in a statement. “We are asking this group to help us visualize how we can build the best program in the nation to meet workforce development needs of the food, agricultural and human development businesses that are essential to the economy of Arkansas and the nation. We want our graduates to be the first-choice candidates among prospective employers. We have a lot to be proud of in the Bumpers College, but the partnership with this group will help us get even better at meeting the needs of our students and the businesses that hire them. We had a great first meeting.”

The group met for several hours, hearing from Vayda; Chancellor David Gearhart; Provost Sharon Gaber; Clarence Watson, associate vice president of the Division of Agriculture; associate professor Leslie Edgar; and professor Curt Rom. Several department heads were also present throughout the day.

“The open discussion format allowed everyone to discuss our ideas,” said Kordsmeier, an associate buyer with Sam’s Club and a co-chair of the board. “The common topic was internships and how to prepare students of the Bumpers College for the next steps into their careers. I believe our conversations will open up many windows of opportunities for both students and faculty. We have ideas on how to inspire, encourage and prepare the future alumni of the Bumpers College.”

Board members discussed their workforce needs as employers and partnerships in helping Bumpers College better prepare students for professional careers.

The meeting, which was held at the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Arena, concluded with a brief presentation to department heads. The board is planning a second meeting in the coming months.