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Aug. 4, 2017
One half of Northwest Missouri State University’s Dean L. Hubbard Center for Innovation underwent a transformation this summer as the School of Agricultural Sciences moves across the campus to enhance opportunities for instruction, research and profession-based learning while fostering the agriculture program’s continued growth.
The School began the transition last spring from its long-time headquarters in the Valk Center, a move recommended in Northwest’s Campus Master Plan and through an analysis aligned with the University’s strategic plan.
The move puts the School closer in proximity to demonstration plots it manages on the Northwest campus’ northern edge and its 448-acre R.T. Wright Farm, which is located about three miles to the north on Highway 136 and is home to beef, swine, dairy and sheep enterprises as well as row and forage crops.
“When we start to associate this building with agriculture, I think it becomes a selling point to who we are and what we do,” Rod Barr, the director of the School of Agricultural Sciences, said. “It puts us closer to our demonstration plots. It allows our faculty to walk right outside the door. It’s more convenient. Students are going to see that as well.”
The move also creates important synergies with Northwest’s Department of Natural Sciences, which offers an interdisciplinary nanoscale science degree program and has inhabited the 46,679 square-foot Hubbard Center since it opened in 2009. All agriculture students take chemistry and biology courses.
“We see that as a huge advantage,” Barr said. “The collaboration between natural sciences and agriculture will grow. We think that’s exciting for us as well.”
While the Department of Natural Sciences occupies the Hubbard Center’s east wing, Northwest remodeled the building’s west wing, which had been used as office and meeting space as well as by tenants using Northwest’s business incubation services. The remodeled west wing now features five classrooms, ranging in size from 18 seats to 72, as well as a teaching lab, applied research lab, conference room, and staff and faculty offices.
Additionally, Northwest made modifications to the McKemy Center for Lifelong Learning, located south of the Hubbard Center to accommodate agriculture programming. The McKemy Center, which had been an ag education facility until the early 1990s, was remodeled to include a 100-plus seat lecture hall, computer lab, recording studio and a commodities training room to simulate market tracking – enhancements that are geared toward ensuring students develop an understanding of the entire agriculture industry, Barr said.
Modifications to the McKemy Center were completed in April, and work at the Hubbard Center was finished Aug. 1. The total budget for both projects was less than $1 million.
Northwest boasts one of the largest and most unique agricultural science programs in the Midwest, serving an enrollment of 684 agriculture majors last year, an increase of about 40 percent in the last five years. The School of Agricultural Sciences boasts an 84.1 percent retention rate compared to the national average of 68.7 percent, and 98.2 percent of its graduates are securing employment or advancing their education within six months of earning degrees.
While the School is one of the top three degree-conveying programs at Northwest, integrating the Hubbard Center into its programming further enhances its unique palate of resources. Students in ag science-related majors gain profession-based experience at the Wright Farm, which is managed by professional agriculture specialists and faculty members. It also links the University with regional school districts to promote agricultural and food-system literacy.
Additionally, Northwest and the School of Agricultural Sciences are in the planning stages and pursuing private support to help fund an $8.5 million, 29,000-square-foot Agricultural Learning Center at the Wright Farm and supplement and enhance the academic curriculum.
Northwest also is completing an Agricultural Sciences Master Plan to analyze short- and long-term growth needs for the School.
For more information about Northwest’s School of Agricultural Sciences, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/ag/.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468