The University of Delaware’s Titus Awokuse has been named chair-elect for the National Association of Agricultural Economics Administrators (NAAEA), a section of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA).
Awokuse, chair of the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics (APEC) in UD’s College of Agricultural and Natural Resources (CANR), will assume his role on July 26 during a meeting to be held in San Francisco.
Of being named chair-elect, Awokuse said, “I feel honored to be elected because it’s always special when your peers choose you to lead them.”
Awokuse has been involved with the organization for the last four years and explained that being named chair-elect means he will begin a three-year term that will see him serve as chair-elect the first year, chair of the organization for the second year and then past chair in the third year.
According to Awokuse, it is structured this way to ensure continuity in terms of leadership.
As chair-elect, Awokuse will plan the meetings for next year in addition to other responsibilities.
The NAAEA is comprised of department chairs in agricultural and applied economics across the nation and as part of the association’s function they organize workshops and symposia on important agricultural policy issues that affect the agricultural and resource economics profession.
“The group advocates for professional issues with regard to educational programing and students’ training, academic leadership development, research promotion, and strategic responses to the societal challenges of our day,” said Awokuse.
The association provides advice and recommendations to government agencies and policy makers on important issues. It also serves as a source of information dissemination on best practices in terms of administrative leadership of academic departments in the agricultural and applied economics profession.
“We have a bi-annual meeting in addition to the annual meetings focused on special policy issues of relevance to the profession. It is usually held in Washington, D.C., and we invite legislators and policymakers from Capitol Hill as participants in the meetings,” said Awokuse.
At the meeting, there is a forum with presentations about legislations in Congress concerning the food industry or national agricultural and farm policy.
“This bi-annual meetings organized by this association plays an important role as it also serves as a forum for responding to crucial questions being asked by policymakers,” said Awokuse.
Awokuse also said that the group plays an advocacy role for the profession.
“As a leader, a department chair has the ability to influence the implementation of an institution’s mission and strategic agenda and can also promote scholarship in an academic discipline by supporting and facilitating the research work of colleagues in the department,” said Awokuse. “I see the role of a department chair as primarily being one that enables others to do their work better. We serve as facilitators, working to create an environment where people can do their jobs effectively and efficiently.”
As for how Awokuse handles the workload of being department chair and serving on various national and international agricultural committees — he also was named to the Nigerian National Agricultural Policy Committee in 2014 — he said it’s important to be organized and to prioritize which projects and service opportunities to take on.
“I don’t do everything. Time is a very scarce resource. I respond to requests and invitations that are relevant to my research and professional interests, and also commit to activities that are consistent with my passion and appointment,” said Awokuse.
Article by Adam Thomas
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