Titus Awokuse, professor of food and resource economics and professor of economics, has been named chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics (FREC) in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources effective Sept. 1. As chair, Awokuse will have administrative oversight for research and teaching activities of the faculty, staff, and students and have responsibility for leading department-wide initiatives and day-to-day management of the department’s academic programs and personnel affairs.
Awokuse will succeed Thomas Ilvento, professor of food and resource economics, and he noted that Ilvento has been a great help to him as he prepares for his new role.
“The outgoing chair, Thomas Ilvento, has been extremely helpful in showing me the ropes and helping to achieve a smooth transition. He has been incredible,” Awokuse said. He also mentioned Blake Meyers, Edward and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor and chair of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, as being a great help in getting him prepared to chair the department.
Robin Morgan, dean of CANR, said of the appointment, “Titus Awokuse is an exceptionally talented scholar and teacher, and UD is very fortunate that he will lead the Food and Resource Economics Department going forward. Under Awokuse’s leadership, I look forward to seeing the department’s bold plans and bright future unfold.”
After earning a bachelor of science degree in economics from Berea College, Awokuse went on to get his master’s in economics from Murray State University and his doctorate in agricultural and applied economics from Texas A & M University.
Awokuse joined the department in August 2000, and he said that he looks forward to the challenge of being chair of FREC and stressed that he hopes the position will allow him to collaborate with his fellow departmental colleagues and staff as FREC continues to move in a positive direction.
“My philosophy is that being the chair of a department is not like being the leader of a business venture. This is more of a group effort. The chair should be a visionary and facilitator who works collaboratively with others to achieve set goals and objectives of the unit. So it should not be just the chair doing all the work. An effective leader must respect and genuinely care for people’s needs, be an active listener, set clear goals and priorities, and share the load by delegating responsibilities to others. It’s basically trying to get the group to work more cohesively so everybody has a role to play.”
Awokuse said that one of his goals as department chair is to make FREC more competitive in terms of research, teaching and outreach on both a national and international level. “I want us to have stronger visibility nationally and internationally. We have some excellent faculty doing great work and we need to showcase that more, we want to continue to attract strong students for both our undergraduate and graduate programs.”
He also wants to increase FREC’s interactions and partnerships with other departments and colleges within the University. “We have worked really well with other departments on campus, and we want to strengthen those linkages and continue to do that.”
Another subject that Awokuse feels passionate about is leading by example. He hopes to remain active in research even with his new responsibilities as department chair.
“Although the administrative demands of being chair will be time consuming, I still intend to carve out quality time to engage in my research work and mentoring graduate students.”
Awokuse conducts empirical research on policy issues related to the economics of international trade and investment, economic growth and international development, agricultural markets and food security. He recently served as the editor, with Joshua M. Duke, for a national peer-reviewed journal, Agricultural and Resource Economics Review. He also co-authored a project report titled “The Impact of Agriculture on Delaware’s Economy,” with Thomas Ilvento and Zachary Johnston, which cited Delaware’s agricultural economic impact to be roughly $8 billion, much higher than the previously reported figure of $1 billion.
Awokuse said that he is humbled by the opportunity to chair the department.
“I thank Dean Robin Morgan for providing me with the opportunity to serve and I’m looking forward to working with the faculty and students and taking the Department of Food and Resource Economics to the next stage of its growth and development.”
Article by Adam Thomas
Photo by Danielle Quigley