Studies by academic, extension, and private foundation think tanks have reaffirmed the land-grant philosophy as an important component of American society in the twenty-first century. Successful land-grant systems will have more closely integrated educational, research, and extension programs characterized as more accessible, affordable, and accountable than current models. The World Wide Web (Web) will play a key role in this transformation. Web technology is evolving rapidly, necessitating continuous and rapid adaptation by information providers (Lineberger, 1996a, 1996b; Rhodus and Hoskins, 1996). The availability of low-cost, user-friendly Web access through home TVs promises to upset the existing paradigms of extension information delivery through county offices and undergraduate instruction exclusively in the campus classroom. Some land-grant professionals have adopted Web technology as a tool to deliver educational programs and coursework; however, most have not, citing as justification the very steep learning curve and time involved in formatting materials for electronic delivery. We have emphasized the need for lifelong learning to our clientele and students; we must heed our own advice. Faculty must develop the ability to integrate appropriate technology into their own programs, since it is clear that land-grant systems of the future will not provide them with the support personnel to do it for them.
A comprehensive survey of American and Canadian universities that offer masters, doctoral, or both degrees in horticulture resulted in responses from 27 academic units. Units were surveyed regarding types of degrees offered, admissions policies, demographic characteristics of students, financial assistance provided to students, faculty ranks and salaries, and metrics by which the programs were evaluated by university administration. About 80% of the programs resided in 1862 Morrill Act land-grant institutions (LG) with the remainder housed in other non-land-grant institutions (NLG). Thirty-eight percent of reporting LG programs existed as stand-alone horticulture departments, whereas horticulture programs were combined with other disciplines in the remainder. Admissions criteria were most consistent among LG programs. Participation in distance education programs was low, but growing. Financial support of graduate students was more common in LG programs. Most schools offered some sort of tuition reduction to those students on assistantships/fellowships and offered health insurance options. Payment of fees was rare and the level of stipends provided varied substantially among programs. International student enrollment was greatest at LG programs and had remained steady in recent years. Gender equity was present among graduate students, with nearly equal male and female enrollment. Most graduate students at both LG (63.6%) and NLG (75.0%) programs were non-Hispanic White; although overall minority enrollment had increased but was still not similar in distribution to that of the general U.S. population. Professors (46.7%) and Associate Professors (28.3%) dominated the faculty ranks while Assistant Professors (19.3%) and lecturers/instructors (5.7%) constituted a much smaller portion of the faculty. Faculty salaries varied tremendously among institutions, especially for senior faculty. Female and ethnic minorities were underrepresented in faculty ranks compared with the general U.S. population. Aside from total graduate program enrollment, the relative importance of various evaluation metrics for programs was highly variable among institutions. Data discussed herein should be useful to universities with horticulture graduate programs for peer institution comparisons during program assessments, accreditation reviews, or for strategic planning purposes.
The Coordinated Educational and Marketing Assistance Program identifies outstanding landscape plants for Texas and provides support for the nursery industry, thereby making superior plants available to Texans. CEMAP funding comes directly from industry and from consumers through the sale of plant tags bearing the Texas Superstar logo. Additionally, the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and Texas Department of Agriculture is conducting a Texas Superstar publicity campaign. An estimated $10 million in new plant sales have been generated during the first 10 years of this program. Because plants are chosen based on their performance under minimal input conditions, Texas SuperStars greatly reduce their impact on the urban environment.
Plant trialing and marketing assistance programs have become popular in recent years with several state and some regional programs emerging. Successful implementation requires considerable labor, facilities, and monetary resources for evaluation of large numbers of taxa over several years to ensure that plants are well adapted to the region of interest. Research and development funds, dedicated facilities, and cooperator commitment to trialing programs can be limiting during the early years of the programs. Involvement in plant trialing programs allows students to be exposed to plot layout planning, statistical design, plant maintenance, data collection and analysis, and professional communication of trial results. Construction of facilities for conducting plant trials, growing plants for use in trials, trial installation, and maintenance of plants all provide practical hands-on horticultural training. Replicated plant trials provide the latest information on regionally adapted taxa for inclusion in classroom instruction and publications. Plant trialing programs benefit from labor assistance, development of dedicated facilities, and the opportunity to share equipment and supplies among teaching, trialing, and student research projects.