One of the top priorities for the Purdue College of Agriculture in the new year is to upgrade the animal science department. Purdue University will be asking the Indiana General Assembly for funding to construct a new animal science building. Department head Alan Mathew told HAT the current building is no longer workable, “We are working in buildings that date back to the 1950s and some even older. There are issues with the ventilation and the electrical that make it difficult to conduct the new molecular research.” He added the kind of cutting edge research the animal industry needs cannot be done at Purdue in the current facilities.
According to Mathews, the design of the laboratories does not foster the new kind of animal science research currently needed, “The labs are, well antiquated. They are cubical and not the open concept currently in use today that foster collaboration among different disciplines.” He said it is also difficult to recruit and keep some of the top researchers with out-of-date facilities.
Mathew says the classrooms that were built over 50 years ago cannot provide the kind of teaching and learning environment needed today, “The overheads and Power Points do not carry the message to the new generation of students who grew up with all the IT advantages and are used to getting information from a variety of sources.” New state-of-the-art facilities will also help attract some of the best students in the nation.
Private donations will match possible state funding including a recent $5million donation form Creighton Brothers Farms. Still, with state resources tight, it will be a tough battle to win approval from Indiana lawmakers. University officials have indicated that obtaining this funding is one of the top priorities for 2015. According to Jay Akridge, Dean of the College of Agriculture, “The Animal Sciences department is one of the largest departments in our college. We have over 600 undergraduates in that program, about 60 grad students, 35 faculty members. So, from our standpoint, it’s certainly a large department; it serves a very, very important industry in this state. This new Agricultural and Life Sciences building is intended to be a replacement for that wing of Lilly that so many of our alumni know well, where the Animal Sciences department has been housed for many years.”
Hendricks County Pork Producer and Purdue Trustee, John Hardin, said the Animal Science Department at Purdue is vital to the continued growth and profitability of the livestock industry in Indiana, “The Purdue Animal Sciences department has always focused on a lot of the great dollars and cents research that helps a producer’s bottom line. We’ve seen cutting edge work with new feed additives at Purdue and ways to improve the feed-to-gain ratio on our animals. Then there’s a lot of things that are kind of intangible, or may not, at first glance, be seen how they apply to the bottom line as far as improving the environmental stewardship that pork producers have, and also working with food safety and new product development on kind of the back end of the animals that we produce.” According to Mathew, the animal industries in Indiana are a very significant economic driver for the state, “It’s about a $6 billion industry altogether. Animal livestock, in fact, comprises about $1.2 billion of inventory for the state.”