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Click here to see this online
 Dr. Sean Fox
 Dr. Sean Fox

Dear Alums and Friends,

Greetings once again from Mumford Hall where faculty, staff and students all appear ready for winter break.

It’s been a busy semester on the personnel front with searches ongoing for three staff and four faculty positions and several new faces in the Department. In the past few months, we welcomed a new Assistant Head, Dan Breen, who joined us from the Gies College of Business where he served most recently as Director for Information and Data Analysis. We also welcomed Katy Mosiman back to Mumford Hall. From 2014-2018, Katy worked with Paul McNamara’s AgReach agricultural extension program. She returns now with a dual role – as coordinator for the newly approved Master of Agricultural and Applied Economics (MAAE) program and as a communications specialist for work related to the economics of sustainability. 

Also joining ACE during the fall semester was Lauren Karplus, who serves as academic adviser and experiential learning coordinator. Lauren previously served as an education abroad coordinator for the campus, and her wealth of knowledge and experience with study abroad will be a tremendous resource for ACE. Lauren is currently working with former Dean (and former Head of ACE) Bob Hauser on the IBIP program to India and with Jon Scholl’s Washington DC Ag Policy & Leadership program, both of which are scheduled for spring break 2020.

Over the past few weeks, Jim Baltz has been in the process of moving his recording studio from the Department of Animal Sciences to a room the Mumford basement, next door to farm broadcaster Todd Gleason. As an instructional design specialist, Jim has been working with the farmdoc team to produce their webinars and with Craig Lemoine to produce numerous online courses and webinars. With the College of ACES making a push to develop more online courses, we expect Jim’s expertise to be in high demand. Also joining the farmdoc team during the summer was project manager of web development, Lee Bynum. Lee previously worked at the School of Molecular & Cellular Biology and is now responsible for maintaining and updating the farmdoc, farmdoc daily, and farm policy news websites.

Another new face in the Department is Bill Ridley who joined us as a new assistant professor after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado. Bill’s work explores the effects of trade and investment policy, with a focus on the impacts of trade agreements and trade distortions. We’ve also had some familiar faces move into different roles as both Todd Hubbs and Jonathan Coppess transitioned from clinical into tenure track positions. Those moves came about in part because of a strengthened funding commitment from University of Illinois Extension. In other faculty news, we congratulated Yilan Xu on her promotion to Associate Professor, and both Kathy Baylis and Sandy Dall’Erba on their promotions to Professor. 

On the subject of new faces, the Department welcomed an incoming class of 134 new freshman, the largest since 2010. That freshman class contributed to a record enrollment of 710 undergraduates! Consumer Economics and Finance is now our largest undergraduate concentration with 163 majors. With budgets directly linked to undergraduate numbers, the growth in enrollment was welcome news indeed!      

As the semester winds down, there are several items on the calendar. December 6 looks busy with three events including Financial Planning Career Day with more than 20 sponsoring partners already confirmed. The same day features the Graduate Research Celebration with presentations of the 2nd year PhD papers, a highlight of the year for the graduate program. The annual Jonathan Baldwin Turner (JBT) banquet recognizing freshmen JBT scholars and donors is scheduled for the same evening. Later in the month the farmdoc team will host the Illinois Farm Economics Summit meetings at five locations between Dec 16 and 20. Convocation is scheduled for December 20, in advance of which we are planning a send-off event for graduating seniors. 

Thank you again to all alums and friends for your support of our students and programs. Slán agus beannacht, and enjoy that bowl game!

Sean Fox, Department Head

International Business Immersion Program: Winter 2018-2019
Ethan poses in front of a coffee harvester at the CNH Industrial Combine Factory 
Ethan poses in front of a coffee harvester at the CNH Industrial Combine Factory 

The International Business Immersion Program is a renowned educational and cultural experience in which students are prepared for careers in the global marketplace. It consists of a semester course during the fall semester and a two-week trip abroad during winter or spring break. Students select a group to join that will study specific economic or social topics of a particular country or countries depending on the location of the trip. When students return, they deliver a presentation on what they have learned on their topic to the public. 

I was fortunate to be a part of the Brazil trip over the winter break of 2018-2019. Twenty-six students and our instructors Dr. Robert Hauser, former dean of the college, and Dana Wennerberg, former academic advisor, set out on December 28, 2018 from O’Hare airport for the experience of a lifetime. Over the course of the next two weeks, we travelled to São Paulo, Sorocaba, Piracicaba, Campinas, Foz do Iguaçu, Toledo, Naviraí, Dourados, and Rio de Janiero. We were led by our guides, Georgia and Talita from Campus B, whom we were grateful to have as resources when it came to translation for both language and culture.

Experiencing local culture was one of the highlights of the trip for me. This is partially because I was able to celebrate my birthday in Brazil, but there are other reasons, too. Learning portions of a new language, tasting Brazilian food, and understanding cultural norms helped me to appreciate the amazing diversity we have as humans in how we go about our daily lives in different parts of the world. Being a part of New Year’s festivities in São Paulo, having home-cooked meals on our farm visits, and learning to use basic Portuguese were great ways to develop a better understanding of Brazilian culture.

The major focus of the trip was to gain first-hand knowledge about agriculture in Brazil. Early on, we visited with smallholder farmers in São Paulo, who were farming only a handful of hectares or fractions of hectares each. On the other end of the spectrum, we visited large commercial farmers in Matto Grosso do Sul who owned tens of thousands of hectares. Our focus was not only on farmers, but agribusinesses as well. We toured a CNH Industrial combine factory, met with representatives from the cooperative LAR and FRIMESA, as well as multiple agricultural consulting firms who help farmers make management decisions. Other areas of interest were education and government agencies. We visited ESALQ-USP, which is an agricultural college in the state of São Paulo and listened to lectures on trade and economics. Our group also had the ability to visit an EMBRAPA facility and ask questions about Brazil’s environmental policies. My group focused on energy and biofuels, so we were especially excited to visit with Flavio from the ALPA, which is an ethanol research and promotion group, and to tour the Itaipu dam. 

Overall, the International Business Immersion Program has been one of my greatest college experiences. With the incorporation of classroom instruction, time abroad, and a reflective presentation, students can easily communicate how the program has impacted or changed them. Coming from a farm background, what I appreciated the most was seeing Brazilian agriculture firsthand, allowing me to have a better idea of how it compares to commercial agriculture here in the States. I would highly recommend this program to anyone seeking international experience. If you would like to read about our trip, check out the ACE departmental blog at https://ace.illinois.edu/blog under December 2018 and January 2019. Ciao!


This article was written by Ethan Plote, Senior in Farm Management with a double major in Technical Systems Management.

Does 4+1 Equal 5? Not This Time! Introducing Our New 4+1 Master’s Program
ACE Master of Agricultural and Applied Economics 
ACE Master of Agricultural and Applied Economics 

Does 4+1 equal 5? Not this time! 4+1 = MAAE. The brand-new non-thesis Master of Agricultural and Applied Economics (MAAE) is a 4+1 combined degree program in ACE, meaning ACE majors* can complete their B.S. and master’s degrees in a total of five years. The MAAE is designed to prepare graduates for a wide variety of careers in the private sector, including as economic consultants, commodity traders, and analysts, or in the public sector with government agencies and international organizations. Maybe one of them will even work for you!

This opportunity exists because of recommendations made by the ACE External Advisory Board and feedback from alumni, along with the administration and leadership of several ACE faculty and staff. Join us in spreading the word about this exciting new program! We are now accepting applications and expect the first cohort to start in Fall 2020. 

The *MAAE is also open as a standalone master’s to non-ACE majors, but it may take them 1.5 years to finish the master’s portion.

Growth in Financial Planning
Financial Planning Scholarship Recipients 
Financial Planning Scholarship Recipients 

The Department of ACE is thrilled to report that we have experienced steady growth in our undergraduate program over the past several years. Of particular note, our Financial Planning program has been one of the fastest growing concentrations in the program’s history. This fall’s program is comprised of over 100 students and continues to grow through new freshmen, off-campus transfer students, and on-campus transfer students. An integral part of this growth comes in the form of a vibrant Financial Planning club, which also boasted over 100 members for the first time in the club’s history. 

Recently, Dr. Craig Lemoine, Director of Financial Planning, reported the following exciting highlights experienced this fall:

Two years ago the financial planning concentration at Illinois had 85 declared majors, a financial planning club of 25, and 230 enrolled in our intro personal finance class. Students took an insurance course in a different department. 

Today we have 115 majors and a club that had 400 express interest at our quad day with over 125 attend the first meeting. We have 396 enrolled in our intro to personal finance class and 66 in our own risk management class. 

Our financial planning team headed to Nationals of the FPA Financial Planning Challenge, and five amazing students won scholarships to this year’s Conference for Advanced Planning hosted by the Illinois FPA! Please join me in congratulating Jonny Hernandez, Jocelyn Li, Maddie Brown, Presley Fee, and Harley Tobon.

Since that update in August, the Financial Planning program has been hard at work, taking students to a national conference, preparing for case study competitions, building new courses, and preparing for Financial Planning Day, occurring this fall on December 6. 

This is an exciting time to be on campus! We would like to invite you to follow the growth of our programs and learn about the amazing things our students are doing by following us on social media (links below).


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