Tim Faltyn, Ph.D., is the 15th president of Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell. A teacher by trade, he has worked his way up the ranks of academic leadership. His accomplishments include all-time highs in fundraising, multi-million-dollar campus renovations, and national recognition for record increases in enrollment and graduate production. We caught up with Faltyn and got his thoughts on …
… the future of family farms.
The family farm will never die, but it is evolving into something completely different. No longer the sole source of income or family employment, the small, family operation is almost always in addition to another vocation. Thirty years ago, my grandfather told me I needed to go to college and learn a different trade because our ranch wasn’t big enough to support our whole family. He was right. To this day, everyone in my family is still involved in the ranch, but we all have careers that provide a quality of life we wouldn’t have if we were all still trying to live and work on the ranch. The good news is there will always be a way for family farms to exist thanks to local and global markets. At Panhandle State, we encourage students to take courses in everything from welding to accounting, from soils or animal science to web page design, so they are prepared to adapt to what has been and will always be an ever-evolving agriculture industry.
… the value of
The most common misconception about agriculture education is that it is just about crop or animal production. In fact, the highest paid and most plentiful agricultural jobs exist in the support, application and research sector of the industry. Climate science, computer/satellite technology, equipment sales/repair, biochemical, plant and animal nutrition research/sales, insurance, accounting, marketing/communications and youth education are just a few that come to mind. This is a positive realization for many students because you don’t have to have several sections of land to live, work and be prosperous in the ag industry.
… Panhandle State’s ag heritage.
Almost every student takes one or more ag-related courses on their way to their degree. We estimate 94 percent of our students come from rural communities across Oklahoma and seven other western states. Most people don’t know that Texas County is the most productive agricultural county in Oklahoma, and I’m told the seventh most productive agricultural county in America. For my family and the families we serve, ag is a way of life. At Panhandle State, there is a genuine commitment to this way of life for our distinct brand of student. Our geography, the people we serve and the culture we represent make us one of the most unique regional universities in America.
… Panhandle State’s students.
Forty-nine percent of our students come to us from Oklahoma and 51 percent come from outside our state. When you realize half of our students are bringing revenue into our state from other states, and often joining our workforce as well-prepared employees after graduation, it’s a favorable relationship for our state. Besides, as I tell people all the time, our purpose is to positively transform our region, regardless of state lines. As Americans, we have to be in this together.