sealPurdue News

May 1996

Purdue ag school sees continued growth

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Although it seems contradictory, just as the numbers of farmers and college-aged students have dropped, enrollments in the Purdue School of Agriculture have increased seven of the last eight years.

In fact, enrollments this year are up 46 percent from the fall of 1987.

"Not many of the students will end up on farms," explains Karl Brandt, associate dean of academic programs for Purdue's School of Agriculture. "Most will go into agribusiness, food processing or environmental fields. Some of these areas have the heaviest demand for graduates seen by any school in the university."

The steady increase in enrollment is a direct result of a strong job market in agriculture and related fields, Brandt says.

"Over the past five years we've seen more than 90 percent of our graduates find jobs in their field within four months," he says. "In the past eight years, the number of companies that attend our annual job fair has nearly tripled. That's a reflection both of the strength of the job market and of their sense that Purdue is a source of quality employees."

As far as academic majors, this year Purdue's ag school saw a reversal of the trends of the past few years: The number of students entering environmental fields, such as forestry, leveled off while the number of students entering traditional agricultural fields, such as agronomy and animal science, increased. "My sense is that this increase is due in part to the increasing industrialization of farming, which requires more people with the technical skills to manage these complex operations," Brandt says.

Some specific trends:

Besides a strong job market, another reason for the impressive job placement rates of School of Agriculture graduates is the school's emphasis on international awareness. The students' knowledge of how the world works beyond the U.S. borders is increasingly attractive to modern multinational corporations. "This is one thing that differentiates Purdue from other ag schools, and one of the reasons we've enjoyed uninterrupted growth," Brandt says. "The number of ag students who have studied a foreign language increases every year, and one out of 10 spends at least a semester studying abroad. We hope to increase that to one in five students in the next five years."

In the past few years, students from the School of Agriculture have studied in Ukraine, Hungary, Sweden, Scotland, Honduras, Japan, Australia, France and New Zealand. The School of Agriculture has teamed up with the Purdue Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures to offer a Spanish course on agricultural terms.

"The increased awareness of the global nature of agriculture has changed the character of our graduates in a very positive way," Brandt says.

Source: Karl Brandt, (765) 494-8473; Internet,
Writer: Steve Tally, (765) 494-9809; Internet,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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