The Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications was officially founded in September 2006. Many of the department’s disciplines like agricultural science and agricultural communications and journalism have a long history at Texas A&M University.
Roots of the Department of Agricultural Education, now the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications (ALEC), began over 100 years ago with the contextual and evolutionary change in agriculture and public education. Agriculture and education certainly predate the official organization of the Department. Edwin Jackson Kyle, class of 1899, was a former student who proved to be a champion for agricultural education at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, as Texas A&M University was formerly known. In 1902, Kyle returned from Cornell to the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas as an instructor in the horticulture department. In 1905, Kyle was promoted to full professor and served as department head of agriculture. In 1910, Kyle announced that courses in agricultural education would prepare students to teach agriculture in Texas public schools. In 1911, a bachelor of science in agricultural education was formalized. That same year, Kyle became the first dean of the School of Agriculture.
The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas created a standing Department of Agricultural Education in the School of Agriculture in 1916. The Department of Agricultural Education remained in the College of Agriculture and focused on preparing teachers of vocational agriculture for public secondary schools as well as county Extension agents in Texas. That degree name would later be changed to Agricultural Science. In 1918, Dean Edwin Kyle created a course of study in the Department of Agricultural Education called agricultural journalism. Students could graduate with a bachelor of science in agricultural journalism through this interdisciplinary program.
Eventually, agricultural journalism formed the basis for the Department of Journalism in the College of Liberal Arts. Moreover, even though the journalism part of the agricultural journalism degree became part of another college, an undergraduate minor in agricultural journalism was created and continues to exist at Texas A&M in our Department. In 2000, the College of Liberal Arts eliminated the Department of Journalism and three faculty members, Steven Banning, Deborah Dunsford, and Douglas Starr, moved to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Department of Agricultural Education as an agricultural communications work group. In 2006, the degree name was changed to Agricultural Communications and Journalism and was offered as a disciplinary degree.
After nearly a century of evolution, the Department of Agricultural Education was officially re-organized and named The Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications on September 1, 2006. Since then, our Department has evolved to continued to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of Texas, the nation, and the world.
The Future of the Department
In 2018, the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications named Dr. Matt Baker, Professor and Head, to lead the department into a new era. Our commitment to excellence in agricultural education, leadership and communications remains the same, and we have made incredible advancements in research programs to better fulfill our land-grant mission. With a renewed focus on innovative research methods and rigorous analysis, our department has developed extensive research programs in consumer perception and behavior, international agricultural development, leadership, rural and community development, science communication and workforce development and vocational training. We have welcomed three new Extension programs under the umbrella of our department and continue to identify new opportunities for our experts to best serve Texans and ensure the health and wellbeing of our communities across the state.
We’re continuing to grow in number, attracting students to our highly-respected programs and recruiting the world’s most renowned faculty experts and research scholars to further our land-grant mission. We look forward to continued growth as we look to the next 100 years and beyond in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications.