Agricultural doctors

By Gus Bode

Students studying agriculture at Southern Illinois University Carbondale now have the option to be a doctor.

Although students could work toward doctoral degrees in areas such as animal sciences or forestry, there was no doctoral program in agricultural sciences at the university prior to the program’s approval on Dec. 4.

Gary Minish, dean of the college of Agricultural Sciences, said this was a good time in the age of agricultural sciences for doctoral programs.


John Preece, professor of plant, soil and agricultural systems, said college administrators have been talking about introducing a doctoral program since around the time he came to SIUC in 1980.

However, he said there wasn’t much serious movement in the process until 2000, when the college changed its name from College of Agriculture to College of Agricultural Sciences.

Now, he said, the university is one of three non-land grant universities with a doctoral program in agricultural sciences. The difference between land and non-land grant universities is that land grants get money from the federal government.

Illinois’ only land grant university is the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Preece said.

Minish said the program would help the college as a whole, including undergraduate and graduate studies.

He also said the program would open up a variety of new windows for the college.

“It’ll help our grants,” Minish said. “It’s going to bring a lot of new ideas and a lot of new people in.”


Keith Rincker, a graduate student from Strasburg studying plant, soil and agricultural systems, said he thought a new doctoral program would be a great addition to the college.

However, he said he wasn’t sure if he would stay and continue his work at this university.

Rincker said increased availability of interesting projects and financial assistantships would make him more likely to stick around.

However, Rincker said he was ready to get out into the world of work, and was unsure if he would continue his education immediately.

Minish said his optimistic goal was to have students enrolled for the 2008 fall semester . He also said there were many students in the College of Agricultural Sciences who showed interest in the program.

Christian Holt can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 268 or [email protected].