Poland is ready for challenges as new DSU ag chairman

In some ways, Dickinson State University doesn't compete with a large university like North Dakota State, but it's certainly making strides. In fact, it was recently able to woo Dr. Chip Poland from NDSU's Dickinson Research Extension Center. "We...

In some ways, Dickinson State University doesn't compete with a large university like North Dakota State, but it's certainly making strides.

In fact, it was recently able to woo Dr. Chip Poland from NDSU's Dickinson Research Extension Center.

"We're really pleased to have Dr. Poland coming to Dickinson State to serve as chair of the Agriculture and Technical studies Department," said Dr. Doug LaPlante, dean of the College of Education, Business and Applied Sciences at DSU. "He brings a wealth of ag experience in areas like ag extension and research."

Poland, who has been at the DREC since 1994, officially finished his duties at the extension center on Sept. 1, but because classes started sooner, Poland filled dual roles. Fortunately, there are no hard feelings on NDSU's end.

"I am here through the graciousness of NDSU," Poland said. "I picked up one class and (extension director Kris Ringwall) provided the time to get started."


Poland has taught two classes as an adjunct professor for DSU since 2004, so the teaching isn't new. Poland taught the junior seminar and livestock production and is adding animal science this fall.

"In the first week, time management has been the biggest challenge," Poland said. "Part of that is learning (and)... researching the questions and giving the appropriate response. After I go through that a couple of times, the responses are much easier."

He won't be alone in learning his administrative duties. LaPlante and Dr. Rich Brauhn, vice president of academic affairs, are there to offer guidance.

"The first year is going to be a learning year for him, but we think he's capable, intelligent and a hard worker," Brauhn said. "(He's also) very pleasant and popular with students."

Although Poland said the learning curve has been steep in his first week on the job, it's not as if he didn't know what he faced.

"Typically, if you work for a university, you often wear those three hats - research, teaching and extension components," Poland said. "I'm basically an academic-type person."

Working more often with students has Poland excited about the change.

"That's probably the primary one," Poland said. "The second is the opportunity for advancement for someone with a terminal degree who wants to stay in southwestern North Dakota."


Plus, in this region there aren't many opportunities to pursue academics except at DSU.

"(These jobs) don't come along every day," Poland said. "We felt I should throw my hat in the ring."

Continuing research

It doesn't hurt that Poland will continue to some extent to work with students on their research projects.

"(The research will) take a different shape, form and magnitude to what I was previously doing," Poland said.

While DSU made it clear that his position is primarily meant for teaching, it's understood that students are required to do research and the department is looking to progress with research.

"Dr. Chip Poland has an excellent academic background, relevant experiences both in teaching and doing research," DSU President Dr. Lee Vickers said.

Poland said while DSU isn't a large research institution like NDSU, it has some major strengths within the ag department, such as agrosecurity, which is grant funded, equine research, animal science studies and range management.


"Those to me are appropriate to how one develops a research arm that fits the strengths of the department," Poland said. "Like any other institution, we're moving toward grant funding."

Even though DSU can't compare to NDSU's research ability, Poland said there's plenty of opportunity for coalitions and partnerships.

"This department is fortunate where historically, the department coordinated linking students and scientists somewhere, instead of on its own," Poland said. "I envision that to be something to continue."

While Poland would like to see more research being done, all he can do is prod and encourage the students to participate in the research and request the funding available.

"He has clearly demonstrated a strong desire to make a significant difference in his profession," Vickers said.

Other duties

Administrative tasks aren't the only new responsibilities for Poland. Along with a more structured teaching schedule, he's been thrown a few side jobs that fall under the chair.

At the end of last spring, the ag department lost not only its chair, but also one of its professors. Dr. Andrew Novotorov moved on to Kansas.


Poland said the university was looking to hire a replacement for the ag chair as soon as possible to help begin the search for Novotorov's replacement.

"We're using an adjunct professor as a stop gap professor for the fall," Poland said. "We're still debating the best way to respond to the opening."

As chair of the ag and technical studies department, Poland also oversees an ag management internship and is the faculty advisor for the rodeo team.

He works with the rodeo coaches to determine what the fairest grade is for the students and also supervises those positions.

Though the rodeo club went through a difficult time when former coach Tom Nelson's contract wasn't renewed, Poland said he hopes to leave that in the past in working with new coach Scott Kleeman.

"The rest that happened was before my tenure here," Poland said. "I hope to start with a clean slate."

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