CALDWELL, Idaho ­— The dean of University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences told stakeholders April 16 that CALS is open to partnering with BYU-Idaho on certain research projects.

John Foltz said those projects would have to make sense for both universities, which compete for ag students.

“We are trying to find ways to partner with them that are appropriate for them and for us (while) also realizing they are a competitor for us,” Foltz said. “We want to make sure we don’t give away the farm also.”

Foltz made those remarks in response to a question asked during an informal “coffee with the dean” event in Caldwell that attracted more than 30 people.

Brigham Young University-Idaho is a private, four-year university located in East Idaho. The university’s ag mission has been expanding and Foltz was asked whether CALS is interested in partnering with BYU-Idaho on some research projects.

Foltz said the college is exploring what he termed “competitive collaborative partnerships” with BYU-Idaho, which has an enrollment of more than 16,000, about 4,000 more than UI.

He encouraged faculty and staff to “keep your ears to the ground” for possible ideas.

“We’re very open to looking at those sort of relationships,” Foltz said. “If you have some ideas on that, we should talk about it.”

BYU-Idaho doesn’t have a graduate program for its ag students and many of them are ending up at UI as graduate students.

“It would behoove us to strategically collaborate on various research projects (if the opportunities arise),” said UI Food Technology Center Director Josh Bevan, who asked the BYU-Idaho question.

In response to a question about what CALS is doing to continue increasing enrollment, Foltz said the college is focusing on several areas, including forming partnerships with the agricultural industry to help explain the career opportunities available in the farm sector.

One of the keys to attracting students is informing them of the many career opportunities involved with farming and who better to do that than the industry itself, he told the Capital Press later.

“The challenge is that many young people think of agriculture as just farming,” he said. “It’s not just that; it includes all of the supporting industries. We want to partner with industry to help them share (that) message because they’re the ones that are hiring our graduates.”

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