Campus: Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo -- December 17, 2001

Cal Poly, UC Davis to Enhance Cooperation on Graduate Programs in Agriculture

Cal Poly and the University of California, Davis, are partnering to coordinate graduate studies programs in agriculture.

The new McOmie Graduate Education Program is the result of an agreement by the agricultural colleges at both Cal Poly and UC Davis to work cooperatively on graduate education.

Students in the McOmie Graduate Education Program will be able to earn their masters' degrees in Cal Poly's College of Agriculture, and then work on their doctorate at the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. Faculty at both campuses will periodically meet to coordinate course offerings and research guidelines.

The program is made possible by a $20 million trust fund shared by the two universities. The trust was established in 1975 by California rancher Lorenzo McOmie and wife Judith McOmie as a $5 million fund at UC Davis and Cal Poly. It is dedicated to the support of agricultural research programs at both universities, especially in the areas of animal husbandry and field crops.

The agreement setting up the McOmie Graduate Education Program will help strengthen the research connection between the UC and CSU systems and also provide highly qualified students for doctoral studies at UC Davis, according to agriculture deans at both universities.

"We are very pleased to enter into an agreement to cooperate with the scientists at UC Davis to strengthen and expand collaboration and coordination among the graduate programs at our two campuses. We believe this will benefit our students greatly," said David J. Wehner, interim dean of the Cal Poly College of Agriculture. "This program will allow our faculty and students access to some advanced technologies and programs at Davis that we cannot provide at Cal Poly and will help develop relationships between the scientists at both institutions that will benefit the State of California."

"We're excited about the McOmie Graduate Education Program and the spirit of cooperation it demonstrates between two excellent institutions," said Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. "This new program, made possible by the generosity of Lorenzo and Judith McOmie, will foster educational collaboration between the two universities and provide easy access to UC Davis for agricultural students at Cal Poly, which will prove valuable as California continues its worldwide leadership in the agricultural industry."

The new program affirms the informal relationship between the two universities that has been established over the years in the area of agricultural sciences as Cal Poly graduates have gone on to pursue advanced degrees at UC Davis.

"The range of expertise, experience and talent assembled at both UC Davis and Cal Poly offers doctoral students in the agricultural sciences a unique opportunity to seek knowledge at both institutions," said Gray Anderson, chair of the UC Davis animal science department. "Our focus will be on allowing the faculty and students to respond to a broad range of contemporary issues related to the growth and development of the animal and agricultural sciences."

Anderson noted that several of his students who earned their bachelors' degrees at Cal Poly have gone on to distinguish themselves in their graduate studies at UC Davis. Among these were Stefanie Oppenheim, who received the 1999 John Kinsella Award for the top doctoral thesis in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Shelley Cargill, who was the 1998 recipient of the Physiology Graduate Group's Hertzendorf Award for graduate research and good citizenship.

This enhanced educational partnership between Cal Poly and UC Davis expands on the original vision behind the McOmie trust fund to include a broad array of graduate programs administered by the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The McOmie Graduate Education program was launched in September with each institution contributing $35,000 for the first year. The program will be subject to review by both universities every five years.

Editors' Note: For more details, contact:

  • David Wehner, Interim Dean, College of Agriculture, Cal Poly, (805)-756-2161

  • Michael Barr, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, College of Agriculture,

  • Randall Southard, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 752-0233,

  • Clifton Parker, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Science, (530) 752-2120,

  • Patricia Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,

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