Challenges of higher education in the US – what will horticulture of the future look like?
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Nationally from 2004 to 2012, undergraduate baccalaureate enrollment in horticulture decreased 19%, associate degree enrollment has been stable, and graduate enrollment increased 30%. Of 39 land grant universities surveyed, only 21% exhibited increasing enrollment growth. The average enrollment per program is 100 students. Possible reasons for decreasing enrollment are: ineffective or no recruiting, not attracting as many female majors, increasing admission standards, bad publicity primarily based on jobs and low starting salary, and not appealing to the new Millennial student. Additionally, there is a trend to merge horticulture departments into plant, soil and/or environment departments, such that in 2014 only 31% of the universities offering horticulture degrees have departments with horticulture in the department name. An effort to make horticulture an attractive major for the current Millennial student is required. This can be achieved by offering specializations in the areas that are growing, namely entrepreneurship, business food and nutrition, environment and natural resources. There may be a need to offer alternative teaching approaches to effectively recruit Millennial students. Many of the current students are attracted to emerging pedagogical approaches, including distance education, blended delivery, flipped courses, etc. These decreasing enrollment trends cannot be achieved by academe alone, and partnering with public horticultural institutions, horticultural societies, and leading horticultural and allied industries may be needed. Total faculty numbers are exhibiting a slight decrease and there is a trend to hire fewer tenuretrack professorial-ranked faculty and greater numbers of non-tenure track professorial-ranked, instructor, lecturer or part-time faculty. The peak faculty age is increasing, with a large number approaching retirements. Funding for faculty research is changing dramatically. Appropriated funding allocated to faculty has decreased greatly; thus faculty must generate significant funds to cover expenses for their research, graduate students, technical support staff, travel, operating expenses, and increasingly a portion of their salary to maintain 12-month appointments.
author list (cited authors)
Reed, D. W., Arnold, M. A., Lineberger, R. D., & Davis, T. D.