The Division continues to thrive! We have had two consecutive years of increasing freshmen enrollment, and are expecting an even larger increase for the coming fall. We have invested in on- and off-campus recruiting events and we believe that is paying off as the proportion of our admitted students from rural Missouri has increased. We have made a strong reinvestment in the livestock judging program with the aid of many alums and livestock industry groups. Many judging team alums visited campus this past week, ate a steak, enjoyed competing with one another and just had a good time reminiscing. It has been gratifying to me to hear their many stories as to how their judging experience benefited them throughout their lives.
Over the past year we have been active in hiring new faculty members. In addition to those introduced in the Fall newsletter, Ahmed Balboula joined the Division this month in a reproductive biology position. Ahmed most recently studied at Cambridge University. We also have two searches in progress, one for a research/teaching position in beef reproduction and the second for an instructor to teach evaluation and coach the livestock judging team. The recent additions to the faculty have created a good age balance and have brought renewed enthusiasm to our program.
This year we have turned our attention to improving facilities. Many of our farm facilities are decades old. Missouri pork producers have taken the lead in providing funds for replacing swine facilities with a $300,000 gift. That gift puts us half-way to our initial goal of raising $600,000, which would be matched with $1.8 million in University funds. We have also made significant investments in Trowbridge Livestock Center. Funds from Extension, the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Campus Facilities and the Division of Animal Sciences have been used to install a projection system so that the sales arena can function as an auditorium for holding classes, to improve accessibility and security, to improve lighting and appearance, and to add livestock handling equipment. We are seeking additional funds to replace the floor in the show arena with concrete to increase its versatility, to improve climate control and to add a perimeter fence to decrease the risk of livestock escaping from the facility. The improvements that we have made are noticeable, and the use of the facility has increased dramatically.
Other projects on which we are seeking to move forward are the National Center for Applied Reproduction and Genomics (NCARG), a training center for students, veterinary students, veterinary continuing educations and reproduction industry personnel, and the Meat Education and Training Center, a replacement for the 1948-vintage abattoir along with modern meat laboratory and teaching facilities.
We look forward to visits from parents and friends at our undergraduate recognition dinner on May 3. We are proud of our programs and eager to show them to you. If you are near Columbia, stop by the Animal Sciences Research Center. If you can’t see us in person, drop us a note. We look forward to visiting with you.