In 2004, the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management at Texas A&M University-Kingsville opened its doors, with two students ready to revolutionize ranching education.
“Ranching is a constantly changing business. It isn’t enough just to be a cowboy these days,” says Dr. Barry Dunn, executive director and endowed chair of the institute. “You have to be a businessman, wildlife manager, animal expert and range conservationist all at the same time. Our program is uniquely designed to produce ranch managers that are just that.”
Those first two students graduated in 2006. Dun says the program will be open to as many as four students at a time.
“The institute’s curriculum is unique, as each student’s plan of study is tailored to strengthen their skills and intellect in all areas of ranch management, including animal science, wildlife management, range management, business and system analysis,” Dunn says.
The program differs from student to student depending on what components they have already had and what they need to become a well-rounded ranch manager. Symposia also are held on various current topics to keep students up-to-date with important happenings in the ranching industry.
“The King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management is a unique program that has as its central role the offering of a Master of Science degree in ranch management,” says Dr. Rumaldo Z. Juárez, university president. “The institute seeks to establish a free flow of information between the private sector and the university to ensure that the institute addresses real problems in the ranching industry and endeavors to create new knowledge focused on natural resource systems that can be applied to ranch management.”
“The goal of the institute is to produce a cadre of exceptional professionals who will be prepared to take on the challenges inherent in managing the large ranches found in South Texas,” says Dr. Ronald Rosati, dean of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. “These new stewards of the land will be trained in a systems approach to managing ranch resources.”
The institute will work closely with the College of Business Administration, which offers many of the courses, outside the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, new ranch managers will need.
“We will use the expertise we already have on campus in addition to lectureships by outside experts,” Dunn says. “The lectureships allow us to bring in these experts for a week or a month to give the students, and even community members and area ranchers, access to the best minds in the business.”
This is not a traditional graduate program, he says. Students from the institute spend time in an internship on a ranch working with some of the finest ranch managers in the world.
“King Ranch has graciously offered to serve as a working laboratory for the students and participants in the institute,” Dunn says. “This unique opportunity adds tremendous depth and credibility to the entire program.”
Dunn says the program not attracts prospective ranch managers from South Texas but also from around the United States and even the world.
The institute was created in conjunction with the people at King Ranch Inc.
“King Ranch was built on ranching innovation and a commitment and determination to succeed,” says James H. Clement Jr., chairman of the board, King Ranch Inc. “We believe there is no better way to live up to that legacy than to invest in the future of American ranching. We are determined that the institute will provide the best ranch management graduate education available and are committed to making it the finest source for ranching information in the world.”
A management council composed of ranch managers, wildlife research and management representatives and representatives of other pertinent disciplines advises on the overall direction of the program and provides the life and work experience to ensure graduates have the best broad-based education in ranch management possible.
“South Texas has many blessings, most notably of which is a rich ranching heritage,” Rosati says. “The King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management at Texas A&M-Kingsville is another jewel in the crown of South Texas ranching and higher education.”
For more information about the institute, visit the Web site at krirm.tamuk.edu, or call Dunn at (361) 593-5400.