If all goes according to plan, California State University at Monterey Bay (CSUMB) will be offering a new degree path—the Agribusiness Supply Chain Management Program with a focus on Perishable Products—by the Fall 2025 term. It will be the first degree program of its kind in the country to focus exclusively on fresh produce.
Jennifer Andrew, who is in marketing communications for CSUMB’s College of Business, said the agriculture industry, led by fresh produce companies in the nearby Salinas area, have raised close to $4 million for the effort, which has helped put it on the fast track and almost guarantees its approval. She singled out D’Arrigo, Driscoll’s, and Tanimura & Antle as major donors.
Jennifer Andrew, AACSB and Marketing Analyst, CSUMB College of Business
The new Program for Curriculum review at the CSUMB President’s level has been completed, and the proposed degree program has been sent to the California State University Chancellor's Office for review and approval. The expectation is that it will be approved in early 2023, allowing CSUMB to recruit and hire an executive director or chair for the program by the fall of 2023. That person will be tasked with establishing a Setup Advisory Council, developing the curriculum, hiring staff including an endowed professor, launching the program in 2024, and beginning classes in the fall of 2025.
Jennifer Andrew, who is in marketing communications for CSUMB’s College of Business, said the agriculture industry, led by fresh produce companies in the nearby Salinas area, have raised close to $4 million for the effort, which has helped put it on the fast track and almost guarantees its approval.
Andrew noted that a comparable effort successfully launched a Sustainable Hospitality Management Program at CSUMB several years ago. Like that program, this specific Supply Chain Management Program will be a unique program with nothing quite like it across the country.
The CSU system prides itself on having a “stewardship of place,” meaning a big part of its mission is to educate students at each campus to help fill the needs of the communities in which they are located, Andrew said.
This specific Supply Chain Management Program will be a unique program with nothing quite like it across the country.
Since agriculture, and specifically the specialty crop industry, is a huge part of the region where CSUMB is located, the university works hand in hand with the ag community on its needs. A very visible case in point is the CSUMB library—the Tanimura & Antle Family Memorial Library. Andrew said the Salinas company and its family foundation was a major donor to the library fund, just as it is very involved in the fundraising effort for this new Bachelor of Science degree program.
The ag industry will be part of the process at every step of the way, and it was because of discussions with produce industry companies that the effort was launched.
“They told us they needed employees that have an understanding of the supply chain,” Andrew said. “Ag is a huge industry in the Monterey/Salinas area, and we want to be responsive.”
Ultimately, CSUMB also has bigger ambitions, with the university seeking to have the same connection with the ag industry in Northern California that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has on the Central Coast and Cal Poly Pomona has in Southern California. In terms of educating students for careers in ag business in Northern California, “we want to be considered at that same level," said Andrew.
“They told us they needed employees that have an understanding of the supply chain. Ag is a huge industry in the Monterey/Salinas area, and we want to be responsive.” - Jennifer Andrew
The supply chain curriculum will be developed specifically to educate students who can come out of the program and be ready to take on an important role right out of the gate. Considering students will be able to enter the program as early as the fall of 2025, with much of their general education classes out of the way, the first students with this specialized degree should be graduating as soon as the spring of 2027.
Andrew said CSUMB already has two tenured professors who are teaching ag business management classes. The new program will be housed in the College of Business, which is the campus’s largest discipline with about 1,200 students.