The College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan recently announced its newly appointed dean, Dr. Angela Bedard-Haughn. Raised on a mixed farm north of St. Brieux, SK, Bedard-Haughn recalls helping her father in the pig barn and weeding rows of shelterbelts, typical of a farm upbringing.
After receiving an undergraduate degree in physical geography, and an MSc in soil science, Bedard-Haughn went to UC Davis in California to do a PhD in soil science, but always knew she wanted to come back to SK. Since then, she has been on faculty at the department of soil science since 2006 and was most recently the Associate Dean of Research in Graduate Studies.
Shaun Haney sat down with Dr. Bedard-Haughn to discuss her new role as dean of the college (Story continues below video)
After working with stakeholders, partners, and directly with producers through her upbringing, research program, and her role as associate dean, Bedard-Haughn seized the opportunity to become dean. Her passion for the industry is evident, as she explains how “this is just a wonderful, natural extension of that, to just give back to the community”.
When asked what her vision is for the college, Bedard-Haughn responded “I think what we really need now is for our college to get a little bit more nimble”.
Communicating with the agriculture community, teaching students to think critically and adapt to the rapidly changing environment, and providing continuing education opportunities for alumni and community are just some of Bedard-Haughn’s strategies as she readies to start the position. She also states it will be crucial to “keep on top of what’s happening, making sure that our research is contributing to and leading what’s happening in the industry as a whole.”
Another objective is to be very strategic about spending the college’s limited resources, making sure those resources cover the foundations of each program but also target and develop the programs that will carry the college forward. “We can’t afford to be a mile wide and an inch deep, we must focus on where we can dig deeper,” she says.
Bedard-Haughn notices a shift in demographics of her students as agriculture may have a fit for students with urban backgrounds. The agri-food and bioproducts side is attracting international students and more urban students are realizing just how diverse agriculture can be.
Addressing the current pandemic situation, Bedard-Haughn says that faculty are working hard to transfer their fall course content online.
“When remote teaching is done correctly, and the resources are there, it can be a wonderful complement to what we do.”