YOU NEED TO KNOW: Bill Batchelor
by Sonja Cox, Senior/Animal Sciences, Pre-vet
My freshman year at Auburn University, I never envisioned myself casually chatting with the dean of my college. That’s crazy, right? There’s no way he has time to spend with students. Wrong! The College of Agriculture has an open-door policy, and any student is welcome to walk into a faculty member’s office to talk about school and life. I’ve had several opportunities to take advantage of that. I had a chance to talk with Bill Batchelor, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, and here is what he had to say.
What drew you to Auburn University and the College of Agriculture?
I grew up in north Georgia and attended the University of Georgia, where I received both B.S. and M.S. degrees in agricultural engineering. I received a Ph.D. in agricultural engineering at the University of Florida. I spent 10 years at Iowa State University and five years at Mississippi State University as a department head and renewable energy center director. When this position at Auburn opened up, I was very interested because of the reputation of the College of Agriculture and of the faculty. Auburn is a wonderful place.
What advice do you have for students looking at Auburn and the College of Agriculture?
One of the greatest challenges facing the world is how to feed an ever-growing population on limited resources. Many companies are looking for graduates who can solve this grand challenge. The demand for College of Agriculture graduates has never been higher. The college offers outstanding degree programs that prepare students for leadership positions in companies across the country, and the faculty here provides a family environment to help ensure student success.
What is your favorite Auburn tradition? What has been your most exciting moment here at Auburn?
My favorite Auburn tradition is tailgating before football games. Each game, thousands of fans converge on the campus and create an exciting atmosphere that compliments the excitement in our academic programs every day. I host a tailgate each game for alumni and donors of the college.
There have been many exciting moments at Auburn from an academic perspective. This fall, we hit 1,100 undergraduate students, which is a milestone for us. We have been able to construct several buildings, including the CASIC building and the Poultry and Animal Nutrition Feed Mill, which will have a lasting impact on education and research programs for the college. However, the most exciting moment from an athletic perspective was the last play of the 2013 Iron Bowl.
What is your vision for the college? What is something that you would like to see happen during your time here?
The world population is projected to grow from about 7 billion people to 9 billion people by the year 2050. The number of people moving into the economic middle class is also increasing rapidly. By 2050, the world will have to double food production in order to satisfy demand. The College of Agriculture will play a critical role by educating high quality students to go out into the world and determine how to increase food production in an environmentally sustainable way. My hope is to continue to improve and refine our degree programs to provide the highest quality education to our students to prepare them to solve the grand challenges facing the world.
What is a fond memory you have from your college years? (academic or not!)
As an agricultural engineering student, I took many classes in electricity, electronics, machinery, soil and water, and motors and computer control systems. Back in those days, laboratories were very hands-on, and we had access to laboratories after hours to complete our work. My friends and I spent hours in those laboratories learning how these different systems worked, and we had great mentors among the faculty who taught us. I really enjoyed those experiences because, through them, I learned how to diagnose almost any problem with physical systems, and I got to know my classmates very well.