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THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

 

 

TO:

Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee

FROM:

Johanna Duncan-Poitier

SUBJECT:

Master Plan Amendment: State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree in Agricultural Biotechnology

DATE:

May 30, 2006

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 2 and 4

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)

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Should the Regents authorize the amendment of the master plan of the State University of New York in order for the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill to offer a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Agricultural Biotechnology?

 

Reason for Consideration

 

††††††††† Required by State regulation.

 

Proposed Handling

 

††††††††† This question will come before the Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee at its June 2006 meeting where it will be voted on and action taken.It will then come before the full Board at its June 2006 meeting for final action.

 

Procedural History

 

††††††††† Master plan amendment is required because this would be the Collegeís first baccalaureate degree program in the discipline of Biological Sciences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Background Information

 

At its March 13, 2006 meeting, the State University Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to amend the State University Master Plan to authorize the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill to offer instruction leading to the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Agricultural Biotechnology. A master plan amendment is necessary as the proposed program will be the Collegeís first baccalaureate degree program in the MPA discipline of Biological Sciences.

 

Recommendation

 

††††††††† The Department has determined that the proposed program, if approved, would meet the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

 

It is recommended that the Board of Regents approve an amendment to the master plan of the State University of New York authorizing the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill to offer a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Agricultural Biotechnology.

 

Timetable for Implementation

 

††††††††† This amendment will be effective until June 20, 2007, unless the program is registered by the Department prior to that date, in which case master plan amendment shall be without term.

 

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Information in Support of Recommendation

 

The proposed program leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Biotechnologywill prepare graduates either for transfer to related graduate programs in the fields of biotechnology, molecular biology, cellular biology, and agricultural biotechnology or to gain immediate employment in the biotechnology industry, government, and universities with research and technology applications to agriculture and food production. Students in the proposed program will complete 127 credit hours of undergraduate coursework.All students will be expected to take a minimum of 58 hours of major-specific courses, including an independent study project in their area of interest and/or an internship in the agricultural biotechnology industry.The program requirements include a sequence of biology, chemistry, and related mathematics courses.Students take advanced specialization courses focused on modern cellular biology, genetics, and molecular biology as they relate to organisms important in agriculture.

 

Applicants to the proposed program must have a minimum high school average of 80 percent and a minimum SAT score of 1050, with strong mathematics and science courses taken at the high school level.Transfer students must have a minimum 2.0 GPA with a completion of the major's biology and chemistry sequence (grade of C or better) and at least one college-level mathematics course (grade of C or better).

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SUNY Cobleskill projects an enrollment of 15 students for the first year of the program, growing to at least 25 students within three years.As this will be only the third such program in the nation, and as the demand for research into agricultural genetics increases, the College expects that the recruiting base will extend beyond its typical catchment area.

 

An appropriate level of resources has been allocated for the implementation and continuation of the proposed program.The facilities of the Natural Sciences Department and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences are sufficient for implementation of the program.Additionally, the program proposal has attracted over $150,000 in external start-up support for the purchase of such items as new biological laboratory equipment. The College currently employs 11 faculty members with doctorate degrees in the areas of the sciences appropriate to the proposed program.It has hired one new full-time associate professor to begin in fall 2006 and plans to hire an additional faculty member for the program.†† As the College has been preparing for this program for several years, it has purchased a sufficient number of books, periodicals, and videos for its library collection to support the proposed program.It is a full participant with SUNY Connect providing electronic databases through this service.It will continue to purchase library resources to maintain currency in this area.

Although there are several generic programs in biology in New York that offer biotechnology concentrations, SUNY Cobleskillís program would be the first baccalaureate program in the State specific to agricultural biotechnology, with the next closest at the University of Kentucky. One of the largest growth areas in biotechnology is in the area of genetic enhancement of agriculturally important organisms (e.g., salt tolerance, immunotolerance, pest resistance). Conversations with faculty at two graduate institutions (Cornell and SUNY Albany) have resulted in preliminary discussions on articulations to graduate programs in related disciplines; for example, Plant Cell and Molecular Biology doctoral programs.

 

The Department conducted a canvass of all degree-granting institutions in the Northeast region to access the possible adverse impact the proposed program would have on them.None of the institutions that responded cited any adverse impact or objected to the proposed program.In fact, all responses received supported the program.