Message From The Dean

Jordan College Spring-Summer 2017 Newsletter

Dean Sandra Witte

Greetings from the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State. 

I am happy to report that we had our largest harvest ever – more than 600 students graduating this year! We had so many amazing students walk across the stage at the Save Mart Center at the Jordan College’s 48th Annual Convocation on May 19.

Two of those amazing students were Undergraduate Dean’s Medalist Kendall Bailey (Department of Child, Family and Consumer Sciences) and Graduate Dean’s Medalist Touyee Thao (Department of Plant Science).

The next day at the 106th University Commencement, Touyee Thao was named University Graduate Medalist – Fresno State’s top commencement honor! Touyee has been working in the campus Center for Irrigation Technology while doing his undergraduate and graduate work in the Jordan College. He agreed to stay for a few months after graduation while the research projects he has been working on are finished up. No surprise that Touyee plans to pursue a doctoral degree and wants to have a career in water management. See, I told you we had amazing students!

The Spring 2017 semester was a busy one for the Jordan College. In February, we dedicated a custom-made pack line donated by our agricultural business alumnus Jim Mardarosian at Bee Sweet Citrus. Six other companies were involved with Bee Sweet: Aweta Americas, Decco U.S. Postharvest, Intelligrated, Mid Valley Packing and Supply, Valley Automation Solutions and Valley PackLine Solutions. There was also additional help from J.M. Equipment Company who provided forklifts for the delivery and construction process. Valued at $600,000, this donation was in support of the academic programs in agriculture, giving our students an opportunity to learn first-hand about automation in the agricultural industry.

In May, we dedicated our new drip irrigation system made possible through a partnership with industry leaders Netafim and Cal West Rain. The site of the new system is a 36-acre block of newly planted almond trees north of Bullard Avenue. After finding the block has three different soil types, this new system allows us to irrigate the different soil type zones independently as well as keep the moisture levels even across the entire root zone. It can be expanded to irrigate another 200 adjacent acres for row crops and our pistachio orchard, and this can all be monitored and managed remotely!

As soon as we finished up the semester, we started work on updating our mechanized agriculture laboratories. Thanks to a $250,000 gift from Dr. and Mrs. James Moller of Minneapolis, we are able to modernize our equipment, install new work tables, and do some refreshing of paint. Dr. Moller’s gift is in honor of his father, Leonard Moller, who loved agriculture and owned a machine shop in Fresno. Mr. Ken Heupel, mechanized agriculture faculty member for the last 23 years, is retiring this summer. We are welcoming Mr. John Williams, a Jordan College alumnus and former agriculture teacher for Madera Unified, who will be taking over Mr. Heupel’s responsibilities.

You know that our president encourages us to be bold- so we did just that in June! We became one of 22 campuses nationwide to host the U. S. Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) Ag Discovery camp. We had 16 teenagers – ages 14 to 17 – on campus with us for two weeks in June. These kids came from across the United States and even one from Puerto Rico, to learn all about agriculture and the career opportunities the industry has to offer. They lived in the dormitories while having workshops delivered by our faculty and many of our industry partners, visited farms and processing facilities, and enjoyed some of our local recreational opportunities. This program was organized and managed by Dr. Avery Culbertson, a first-year faculty member in Agricultural Leadership in the Jordan College. She knocked it out of the park – especially for a first-year program. She had great support from Jordan College students, staff and faculty as well as many of you in the agriculture industry. Thank you everyone for a spectacular job!

I cannot begin to tell you what it means to the Jordan College to have this kind of support from so many of you. We thank all of you for your time, your talents and your treasures that you so generously share with us. I look forward to another year (only six weeks till students return) of great things happening in the Jordan College.


Sandra S. Witte

Dean, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.