Dean William "Bill" Richardson: College of Agriculture


International Programs sat down with Dr. William Richardson, Dean of the College of Agriculture (COA) and LSU  Vice President for Agriculture. Dr. Richardson is constantly traveling and trying to expand global engagement within his college. He received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Master of Science from Arkansas State University; as well as his PhD from the University of Missouri. International Programs was interested in discussing his recent travels and his views on internationalization within his college and LSU. 


Dr. Bill Richardson, LSU Vice President for Agriculture, LSU AgCenter and Dean, LSU College of Agriculture.
 LSU AgCenter

International Programs (IP): What are the current main international activities within the COA? Do you see challenges in maintaining/expanding such activities?
Dean Richardson (DR): We are doing a lot of work in Central America and we will be making more direct visits, direct contacts, more touches in the countries where we think we have the greatest potential for student yield. In Eastern Europe, it’s a little bit different because we have universities there that I consider peer universities. They are working on some of the same things we are working on such as technology transfer, intellectual property; the science of things. What we are trying to do is match our strengths with their strengths. The university we are visiting in Honduras has a strong food science program; we have a strong food science program, how do we link those things up so we can help each other. When we go to the Czech Republic at Mendel and in general, they have a lot of research facilities throughout the country. We can’t assume that we are going over there as big brother just to help them become better because we are probably going to learn as much from them as they can learn from us. That is what we want, a mutual exchange. We hope to get some of their faculty to come and study with us, and hope for our faculty to go there, as well as, trying to get more students over there for the experience.

IP: What are your expectations of LSU International Programs with regard to the internationalization of your college?
DR: We have high expectations. We feel very strongly that we have to have policies in place; we have to protect the welfare and safety of our students and so forth but I’m not a big bureaucracy. I think we just make things happen. So, one of my expectations is that they find ways to make it easy for these things to occur while we are being held accountable for the quality of what goes on.

IP: Can you please expand on your strategic interests for the COA such as international student recruiting, curriculum globalization and international research?
DR: We are definitely recruiting international students. I will be going to Honduras next week with Rocio Lopez, our international student recruiter, she will be visiting 4 schools there recruiting undergraduates. Hopefully she will convince them to come to LSU. We have a long history between the country of Honduras and the state of Louisiana; it goes back into the 1900s relative to fruit being grown in Honduras and coming into the port of New Orleans. So, we have a lot of Hondurans; a lot of Honduran alumni that live in Honduras, so, we are going to renew as many of those connections as we possibly can. We will be at Zamorano which is the Pan-American School of Agriculture. There our focus is on recruiting graduate students and hopefully looking into collaborative research. We had a huge contingency here last week from Mendel University in the Czech Republic. That is also part of our strategic initiative relative to International Programs, which is to build relationships in Eastern Europe. The universities there are first class, they are well equipped and the students are doing cutting edge research and it can be a true collaborative joint vision between us. So, I’ll be going over there in the middle of March of next year to build up some of those relationships. There we are talking about more undergraduate students, more collaborative research, more academic exchanges but also getting some of our undergrads to get experience in another country. To get experience in another country is not to go to Paris, Rome or London but, to go to parts of the world they have never been to; especially where they speak a language other than English and they have to deal with another culture. That broadens their minds and perspectives and does a lot more to what we are trying to accomplish here with our strategic plan at LSU.