New leadership, new opportunities

by Latasha Ford

Posted on Feb 24, 2020

Dr. Ralph Noble is the new dean for Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology.

Dr. Ralph Noble is the new dean for Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology.

Dr. Ralph Noble is a new member of the Wildcat family. He serves as the dean for Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology (CAFST). He became appointed to his role in April 2019.

Noble said FVSU is a key component and valuable asset to the community. His first impression of the university was the welcoming and friendly environment and the well-manicured campus.

“A reflection of the quality image we aim to project,” he said. “When you ask people questions, you get a smile and an answer to send you on your way. There is no doubt I am excited about being here and looking forward to making an impact on the university, the CAFST and the community.”

His primary goals for the CAFST are student success and enrollment growth while continuing to grow agricultural research and the Cooperative Extension Program. “I am joining a very capable group of colleagues,” he said.

However, Noble said enrollment growth and student success are urgent. “We want the ones here right now to stay the course and leave with a degree while looking forward to a new trajectory in life through job training and placement. There are changes we will have to make. To be successful, we need to all be on board with recruiting and customer service. A question we must ask ourselves is, ‘What is going to be the message and image we want everyone to leave with regarding the CAFST that will make the youth of today want to come here?’ We may not be a big school, but what we do, we do well,” Noble declared.

Part of his plan includes organizing a student advisory council on campus so that students can have some input.

“Do not let them hear the results; let them be involved in the planning. I think they will buy into it much better,” he advised. “We want to change how we think about things and how we solve them. Whatever the trouble is, no matter where it is in the college, I consider it my trouble, too. It is a matter of us working together to resolve it.”

Noble earned a Bachelor of Science in agricultural sciences and a Master of Science in animal sciences from Tuskegee University in Alabama. He earned a doctorate in reproductive physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

The CAFST dean started his agricultural career as a faculty member at his alma mater, Tuskegee University. He served as an instructor, farm manager and later became the co-coordinator of the Animal, Poultry and Veterinary Sciences program. Prior to his position at FVSU, he was the chair of the Department of Animal Sciences at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) State University.

Noble opens the door to the new germplasm conservation walk-in cold storage unit on the university’s farm.Noble opens the door to the new germplasm conservation walk-in cold storage unit on the university’s farm.

Let’s Chat

Dr. Ralph Noble, dean of Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, participated in a question and answer discussion sharing his personality and passion for agriculture.

If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why?

“I like the tiger – something that is going to be fierce and does not mind fighting for and protecting its family and community; being the best you can be. Another key component is that you may have to make choices that are best for the family unit and not to make friends. It can be a lonely job. That involves having tough skin as well.”

What is your secret talent?

“My secret talent is engaging youth and community. I enjoy meeting people who may not initially connect with you, but if you approach them the right way where they are, they eventually get comfortable around you and express their feelings. I also welcome the challenge of working with youth who at times cause the most trouble. I am drawn to them because, in some ways, they remind me of some of my friends in my youth. They do not need us to walk away from them. They may need an extended hand to help and we are here for that.”

Growing up, what was your favorite television show?

“Animal Planet. I liked Lassie and those stories where animals were a part of human daily life. Animals can help us feel good about what we do. When everyone is mad at you, your dog will still wag its tail and lick you. I also enjoyed those shows about veterinarians and solving some of the many problems various animal species find themselves in.”

What movie title would you choose for the story of your life?

“My story is not over yet. I think my life is still developing and growing. During my youth, I accomplished things mostly through physical effort. I now make an impact through wisdom, engagement and getting others excited from experiences and about what to expect in the horizon. I make mistakes, but everyone does. We grow and acquire wisdom from what we learn from our mistakes. When people read a story about my life, I hope they will see me as someone who would get out there where people are, sometimes in the field, and engage individuals regardless of wealth or education. In other words, less talking and more doing. I aim to bring that approach to the CAFST.”

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in agriculture?

“My grandparents had farms in Mississippi and Oklahoma. Growing up in Chicago, my parents thought it would be better suited for my brothers and I (six siblings) to spend our summer breaks at my grandparents’ farms. Those early summers exposed me to life on the farm during my middle and high school years.”

Why should students pursue a degree in agriculture at FVSU?

“The majors in the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology cover a broad and diverse spectrum. We have veterinary technology, animal science, plant science, biotechnology, agricultural economics, agricultural engineering technology, electronic engineering technology, agricultural education, food science, food and nutrition, infant and child development, and public health. We focus on food, family and technology. Yes, it is an exciting time to be in agriculture and the CAFST today. We have been referred to as a hidden gem. I invite you to come visit us. You can find your place here at Fort Valley State University. Ag will take you where you want to be.”

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