University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz and a busload of the university’s faculty arrived at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s STEM Building shortly after 1 p.m. on Wednesday as part of a major stop on their tour through the state.

Steinmetz said he wanted to add UAPB to the travel itinerary and make the third annual bus tour the first to visit another institution of the University of Arkansas system. The stop also marked an important milestone for students studying agriculture in that now they will be able to receive concurrent bachelor’s degrees in agriculture from both institutions.

The university’s bus tour is designed to introduce new and existing faculty to the state of Arkansas, according to UA officials. Being that most of UA’s faculty resides in the northern area of Arkansas, many rarely see the southern parts — something Steinmetz hoped would expose them to the cities where a majority of students come from.

Another goal of the bus tour is to showcase the school’s obligation to service in the state, Steinmetz said. The school has partnered with the Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce and businesses to talk expertise and find out what areas are in need of help.

UAPB Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander welcomed Steinmetz and visiting faculty with a few opening remarks expressing gratitude and the hope for future collaborations between the two universities.

“We not only share a bond in the University of Arkansas system,” Alexander said, “but we share a strong long-term bond as the state of Arkansas’s first two public higher education institutions and the only two land grants in the state.”

Alexander voiced that the door is always open for collaboration with UAF for joint programs, research, contracts and grants.

“A great example of one of these collaboration projects is the 3 + 1 Graduate Program in animal science that was signed five years ago,” Alexander said.

This program enabled UAPB agriculture majors to complete their final year of studies at Fayetteville with a certificate upon graduation from UAF.

Revisions, brought to completion by UAF’s Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and UAPB’s School of Agriculture, Fisheries & Human Sciences, have recently been made to take the program one step further and allow students to receive concurrent bachelor’s degrees in agriculture from both universities. Students will receive a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from UAPB, and a Bachelor of Science in Poultry Science from UAF.

According to Muthusamy Manoharan, interim dean of UAPB’s School of Agriculture, Fisheries & Human Sciences, the poultry industry is growing in the state of Arkansas but there is a lack of qualified students to work in the field.

The question Manoharan wanted to answer with the implementation of these new revisions was: “How can we train our students in poultry?”

Manoharan said he believes that these changes will give students more opportunities and internships to help their careers.

Alexander added that the program’s new revisions would add incentive for those who are serious about agriculture.

The two chancellors, Steinmetz and Alexander, joined each other at a table during the ceremony to sign the joint 3 + 1 Certificate of Excellence Program revisions, which officially set the program in motion.

Among the audience were members of the senior administration at UAPB, including Elbert Bennett, vice chancellor of student affairs, Robert Carr, vice chancellor of academic affairs, Carla Martin, vice chancellor of finance & administration, along with select department deans.

Michael T. Kidd, director of the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science at UAF, closed the ceremony by acknowledging that this program will help address one of the biggest global issues in the poultry industry: A lack of qualified workers. According to Kidd, the poultry accounts for 50 percent of jobs in the state of Arkansas.

Students can expect to utilize the program’s new revision in the fall of 2018.