Associate Dean Gerald Miller tours Iraqi agricultural colleges

January 5th, 2010

AMES, Iowa — Gerald Miller, associate dean of extension and outreach in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, joined six agriculture college deans from across the country in early December for a visit of Iraqi colleges of agriculture.

The defense department-sponsored tour included visits of three Iraqi agricultural colleges. The Iraqi government has approved funding 10,000 scholarships for students pursuing advanced degrees in foreign countries, with more than 1,000 scholarships allocated for agricultural study. Schools in the United States are the choice of most Iraqi students.

"We had dinner with Dr. Sami Al Araji, the chair of the Iraqi National Investment Commission. He is a Michigan State University undergraduate and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and is very passionate about rebuilding Iraq and is in a position to make it happen," Miller said. "He fully understands that agriculture and extension are critical components of the rebuilding process."

The deans were able to meet those responsible for creating and administering the scholarships at the Iraqi Ministry of Education and their Iraqi counterparts to learn about the country's university system. They were asked to talk about America's land grant university system and the related research, extension and teaching functions at agricultural colleges.

The team has submitted a report of its visit including recommendations to the Department of Defense Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) in Iraq, the sponsor of the trip. Among the recommendations is the proposal to consolidate some of the 18 colleges of agriculture that are located within about six miles of each other. The group visited the University of Baghdad College of Agriculture, the University of Babylon College of Agriculture and the University of Anbar College of Agriculture.

Other recommendations include:

* Greater coordination among the American agencies in Iraq, including the TFBSO, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service.

* Having Iraqi agricultural colleges consider new missions patterned after the American land grant university model of education, research and extension.

* Concentrating educational efforts on helping faculty training to build the capacity of the undergraduate education.

Besides Miller, those participating in the tour included: Sonny Ramaswamy, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University; Fred Cholick, dean of the Kansas State University's College of Agriculture; Frank Fear, senior associate dean at Michigan State University's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Jim Hill, associate dean for International Programs at University of California Davis; Daney Jackson, director of Strategic Projects at Pennsylvania State University; and Ken McNabb, director of International Education at Auburn University. Ahmed Araji, an agricultural economics professor at the University of Idaho who is under contract with the TFBSO, served as host to the team in Iraq.

Contacts: 

Gerald Miller, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, (515) 294-4333, soil@iastate.edu

Ed Adcock, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communication Service, (515) 294-2314, edadcock@iastate.edu