Agricultural Leaders To Serve As Key Advisors for California State University

Contact: Claudia Keith,, or Paul Browning,, (562) 951-4800

(Oct. 26, 2006) - Industry leaders from the field of agriculture met this week with officials from the California State University to help identify how to better prepare students for a career in agriculture and to expand partnerships between the university and the agriculture industry. The CSU Agriculture Advisory Committee, as the group is formally named, is a follow up to an initial forum the CSU held at its Fresno campus in 2005 with key agriculture leaders to highlight the impact the CSU has on the agricultural workforce and to discuss the university’s essential role in agricultural research and education.

The CSU produces more than 52 percent of the state’s graduates in agriculture-related majors (nearly 1,200 students) and in certain specialized majors like food and nutrition studies, agricultural engineering, and horticulture, the CSU produces more than 90 percent of the state’s graduates. In addition, the CSU is also a leader in applied research and has established the California Agricultural Research Initiative (CSU/ARI), an applied agricultural and environmental research program that leverages public funding with university and industry capital through collaborative university/industry partnerships. The CSU has five campuses that carry agricultural-related programs including Chico, Fresno, Humboldt, Monterey Bay, Pomona and San Luis Obispo.

“We look forward to working with the advisory committee members on issues that can benefit CSU students in the agriculture disciplines by better preparing them for the challenges of the workforce,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “The committee members represent the top leaders in agriculture and we value their input on what our students need to know in order to be successful.”

Members of the CSU Agricultural Advisory Committee include:

  • Barry Bedwell, president, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, Fresno
  • Mark Burrell, managing partner, The WestMark Group, Bakersfield
  • James E. Coleman, co-president, E & J Gallo Winery, Modesto
  • Manuel Cunha, president, Nisei Farmers League, Fresno
  • Neal Ewald, vice president and general manager, Green Diamond Resource Company, Korbel
  • George Gomes, administrator, California Farm Bureau Federation, Sacramento
  • Ken Graff, president and CEO, Farm Credit West, Visalia
  • Charlie Hoppin, president, Hoppin Farms, Yuba City
  • Gary Korsmeier, president and CEO, California Dairies
  • Peter Larkin, president, California Grocers Association, Sacramento
  • Bill Lyons, owner, Mapes Ranch, Modesto
  • Thomas Nassif, president, Western Growers, Irvine
  • Pat Ricchiuti, president, P-R Farms, Clovis
  • George Soares, managing partner, Kahn, Soares & Conway, Sacramento/Hanford
  • Stuart Sperber, vice chairman, Valley Crest Companies, Calabasas

Former Cal Poly San Luis Obispo dean of agriculture Joseph Jen, who most recently served as Under Secretary of Research, Education and Economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is serving as senior advisor to the committee. George Soares, managing partner of Kahn, Soares & Conway, LLP is serving as chair of the committee.

In 2005, the CSU Ag Advisory Committee was instrumental in helping to secure additional federal funding in support of the CSU’s Agricultural and Environmental Research programs. The federal fund supplements the state government appropriated CSU/ARI fund to deliver applied agricultural and environmental research.

In addition, the Committee will be offering input on curricular requirements to meet industry’s needs for well prepared graduates, as well as identifying further opportunities for the CSU to partner and engage with leaders in the agriculture fields.

For more information on the CSU’s impact in agriculture and other industries, go to

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Last Updated: October 26, 2006

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