What Is APS

A Field Guide to the Academic Programs Section (APS)


Academic Programs Section (APS)-What is it?
The Mission of APS
The Vision of APS
Academic Committee on Organization and Policy (ACOP) – What is it?
What Does APS Do?
Some Challenges for Academic Programs
What Meetings Should I Attend?
Membership Directory

Academic Programs Section (APS)– What is it?

The Academic Program Section (APS) is comprised of the principal officer(s) responsible for academic or instructional programs (undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education) offered by the faculty within colleges of agriculture and related disciplines. It is one of five sections within the Board on Agriculture Assembly (BAA) of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU). The others are the Experiment Station Section, the Extension Programs Section, the Administrative Heads Section, and the International Programs Section.

Academic Programs Section members represent 120 different institutions that include the 1862 land-grants, 1890 land-grants, 1994 land-grants, and 6 non-land-grant institutions. It also includes the 450+ institutions belonging to the Non-land-grant Agriculture and Renewable Resources Universities (NARRU). The NARRU organization and its institutions are affiliate members of APS. Thus, in total, APS represents 160+ institutions having academic programs in agriculture, natural resources, life, and related sciences.

There are four regional sections of APS, the south, northeast, north central and west, and each of these are represented by an officer (i.e., Past President, President, President-Elect and Secretary) on the Executive Committee. Elected officers have a 4-year commitment to the Executive Committee that begins with their tenure as secretary and progresses through president-elect, president and past president positions. A region ensures its representation on the APS Executive Committee by electing a new APS secretary once every four years.

The Academic Program Section’s position in the APLU organizational chart is shown below.

aps organizational chart

The Mission of APS.

To assure that the development of human capital in agriculture, food, natural resources, life sciences and related areas is a preeminent concern of the Land-Grant System and its federal partners.

The Vision of APS.

To provide academic instruction and other programs that prepare society-ready graduates with the skills and competencies necessary to sustain and enhance the food, agriculture and natural resource and life science systems needed by professionals and the general public. This involves the engagement of faculty in the development and implementation of relevant undergraduate and graduate curricula, establishing effective advisement systems for students and the mentoring of faculty to become accomplished teachers in a learning community environment.

Academic Committee on Organization and Policy. (ACOP) – What is it?

ACOP is a part of APS that serves as a steering committee/board of directors for the Section. All ACOP members are APS members but not all APS members are ACOP members. ACOP’s membership is comprised of 23 individuals that includes:

  • The Executive Officers of APS (Chair, Chair-Elect, Past Chair, Secretary)
  • The Chair and Chair-elect for each of the four APS regions
  • A Representative from 1890s, 1994s, & NARRU
  • The APS Representative to the BAA Policy Board of Directors
  • The Chair of the APS Program Planning
  • The APS Representative to the BAA Budget and Advocacy Committee
  • The APS Representative to the BAA Committee on Legislation and Policy
  • The Executive Director of Academic Programs (APLU)
  • The CARET liaison representative to ACOP
  • A Representative from the Board on Human Sciences.

ACOP is the policy recommending body of APS and responds to issues, internal or external, that require an ‘official’ position. For example, this could involve establishing the budget priorities for academic programs or taking a position on the proposed federal budget lines in the USDA NIFA Budget. ACOP represents APS as it cooperates with the other sections and members of the BAA and the various APLU commissions and councils to develop and participate in national academic initiatives and forums. The Experiment Stations (ESCOP), Extension (ECOP) and International Programs (ICOP) have parallel Committees on Organization and Policy.

Wendy Fink currently serves as Executive Director of Academic Programs Section and Assistant Vice President for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources. Her office is housed within the APLU suite in Washington, DC. She represents ACOP and APS to the APLU leadership and is the lead spokesperson for APS. Tara Westington is the Senior Associate for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources and assists with APS programming.

What Does APS Do?

Provides a national structure that:

1.Identifies and addresses national trends and issues (for example, conducts manpower [supply/demand] studies identifying needs in the professions);

a. Provides input to USDA NIFA regarding the role of human capacity development for USDA’s initiatives in education and farm bill implementation.

b. Identifies and addresses funding challenges and opportunities (for example, the ongoing exploration of new liaisons with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy);

c. Fosters regional collaborations among member institutions and coordinates these with programs of federal partners, business and industry, other state and local government and non-government partners;

d. Champions excellence in college and university teaching through the national Teaching Excellence in Colleges and University Teaching Awards Program and the support of regional teaching effectiveness/improvement workshops;

e. Fosters collaborative efforts with international organizations whose goals parallel those of APS (for example, the ongoing collaboration with the Interuniversity Consortium of Agriculture and Related Sciences [ICA] in Europe);

f. Collaborates with other BAA sections to mount multi-state and national programmatic, legislative, and funding initiatives;

g. Works with lobbying representatives to insure growth of federal funding for academic programming via USDA Challenge, Graduate Fellowship, Multicultural Scholars, and Capacity Building grant programs and identify new funding mechanisms for higher education in the food, agriculture, natural resources, environmental, life and related sciences.

2.Provides continuing professional education for members – to assure the development of the leadership necessary for the future – through APS Meetings (at the APLU Annual Meeting and the Joint APS/NARRU Winter Meeting), the regional teaching workshops, summer workshops, national (e.g. Academic Summit 2006: “Opportunities for Academic Leadership –Preparing Society Ready Graduates”), international conferences, and the ESCOP/ACOP Leadership Development Program (for example, workshops have included topics such as “Outcomes Assessment for Program Improvement”, “Assisting Faculty in Instructional Improvement”, “Utilizing Technology in the Creation of Learning Environments”, etc.)

3.Assists members with the tools to recruit and retain a student population reflecting our nation’s diversity and to develop and deliver academic programs to prepare professionals to meet the needs of our agriculture, food and natural resource systems.

4.Works to secure increased resources for higher education from federal, state, and local governments and from the private sector.

Some Challenges for Academic Programs:

  • Declining enrollments in some undergraduate and graduate programs are occurring at a time when student demand for higher education is clearly on an escalating track in most states.
    • HS population is growing thus student HS graduation rates – on the increase.
    • Higher percentage of traditional students going on to college.
    • The number of older/non-traditional students is growing faster than our usual 18-22 traditional population – working adults/part-timers.
  • Our student cohort does not match the rapidly changing demographics of our nation’s population…too few minorities, especially at the graduate education level. The same is true for our faculty cohort.
  • There appears to be insufficient graduates at either the undergraduate or graduate level to meet the needs of the systems we populate with professionals.
  • The demographics of the population now in professional positions suggest that within 5 years in excess of 50% will be eligible for retirement.
  • There are new arenas of need – bio/agro terrorism – preparation of that cadre of scientists necessary to recognize and mediate potential threats and respond to incidents.
  • We may not be doing an adequate job in training the academic and professional leadership needed to meet the challenges in the academy or the professions in the decades ahead.
  • Our institutions are continuing to see shrinkage in state –funding for all higher education programming – of particular concern is the reduction in real dollars funding for experiment station research and extension. Obviously, institutions can raise tuition to cover shortfalls in academic funding; experiment stations do not enjoy that privilege. And because in many states the experiment station and extension are a separate line item in the budget, the institutional leadership is reluctant to share its resources with it.
  • Our curricula in our colleges of agriculture and life sciences may not adequately reflect the opportunities for students to gain the skills and competencies they will need in an increasingly high technology driven and global economy.
  • There is increasing pressure for programmatic accountability and quality assurance for all academic programs.

What Meetings Should I Attend?

APLU Annual Meeting

This meeting occurs annually in the fall (ie early November) at different locations throughout the U.S. It addresses educational issues of national concern and APS meets for one-half day during this meeting. ACOP members also meet for one-half day in advance of the APS meeting.

Mid-Winter Meeting

The mid-winter meeting occurs annually in late February/early March and is held in Washington DC. It is a 1.5 day meeting. ACOP holds a meeting in advance of the larger APS gathering.

Joint COPs

Each summer there is a meeting that includes the members of ACOP, ESCOP, ECOP and ICOP. It is generally held at the end of July. APS members that are not part of ACOP do not attend this meeting.

Regional Teaching Workshops

Each APS region sponsors an annual teaching workshop that APS members attend with faculty/staff members from their respective institutions.

Membership Directory

The APS Directory lists all institutions in the APS membership along with their primary representative along with other staff. If you find errors in the directory, please contact Wendy Fink at wfink at aplu.org.

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