This will be my last letter to our Ohio State ATI Alumni as the Interim Director. You may think the following is “over the top” as my Aussie mates would say – I, however, have much to communicate to our great alumni after having been in this role for 3 ½ years.
The confluence of planned retirements, unplanned personnel changes, and restructuring have brought a number of changes to the administrative structure to the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and to the Wooster campus as well.
The Brookings Institution has analyzed the U.S. Department of Education's new College Scorecard database to produce value-added rankings for nearly 4,000 U.S. colleges, based on the earnings of alumni. Among 1,507 two-year colleges, Ohio State ATI scores 97/100, the highest of any two-year public institution in the state.
The CFAES Alumni Society sponsors an annual awards program to recognize individuals whose careers have enabled them to make significant contributions to the college. This year, four of the recipients have connections to the Wooster campus. They were honored at a reception on the Ohio State ATI campus on March 4 and a luncheon on the Columbus campus on March 5, 2016.
Ohio State ATI continues to experience steady growth in enrollment, with a 7 percent increase in the total student body. Autumn's official headcount was 751, an increase of 49 students from Autumn 2014.
Ohio State ATI swept the three major dairy cattle judging competitions this year with their Nov. 8 win at the North American International Livestock Competition in Louisville, KY.
The team won by an impressive 67-point margin in Louisville, topping the 64-point margin by which they won World Dairy Expo. Hannah Dye was first place overall with 710 points. Teammates Tanner Topp and Kaleb Kliner were second and fourth, respectively.
A building under construction in the Skou Hall parking lot will provide much-needed laboratory space for Ohio State ATI's landscape and construction programs. With a significant amount of the academic year taking place during what would be considered "off season" in those industries, the laboratory space will provide 2,376 square feet of climate-controlled space during cold weather.
Thanks to the leadership and efforts of Ryan Haden, assistant professor and coordinator of the agronomy and sustainable agriculture programs, a grant from the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association has provided $15,000 towards the purchase of the Wintex 1000 automated soil sampler and a Polaris Ranger UTV on which the soil sampler will be mounted. The equipment will be used to train students in the latest methods of grid soil sampling and the development of prescription maps for variable rate fertilizer application.
Dr. Uttara Samarakoon – Samarakoon is an assistant professor in the greenhouse and nursery management program. She received a Bachelor of Sciences degree with honors from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka in agriculture with a specialization in horticulture. She earned her Master of Science degree in crop science at this university, in which her research focused on hydroponic production of leafy lettuce. Her Ph.D.
The Ohio Turfgrass Foundation recognized David Willoughby this year with a Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented during the OTF Conference & Show and OSU Green Industry Short Course in December. Willoughby served as coordinator of the turfgrass management program at Ohio State ATI for more than 20 years, retiring in June 2015. Nearly 1,000 students have graduated from the program during his tenure and his students have gone on to have successful careers in the industry, including at several top 100 and world-renown golf facilities.