Lincoln, Neb. —Larry Van Tassell, who has led the agricultural economics department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through a decade of growth and innovation, has announced he will step down from the department head position next June.
When Van Tassell joined the department as head in 2010, the department had 19 faculty members. Over the next few years, as several faculty members retired, the count dipped to 16. Van Tassell worked to attract talented new faculty members to the department, eventually bringing to total number of faculty to 25. At the same time, he led the department through the launch of several new programs designed to better serve both students and Nebraska’s agricultural producers.
“Dr. Van Tassell’s steady, insightful and empathetic leadership has transformed the department over the past decade,” said Mike Boehm, NU Vice President and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “He is a commensurate team player whose contributions to collaborations always elevated the whole, and I’ve appreciated his well-reasoned perspective and sage advice on matters of importance to the Institute and the department.”
In 2016, the department established the Commodity Trading Room, which was designed to provide students real-time access to commodity markets and advanced training in market, marketing, merchandising, and futures and options markets. Combined with classroom courses, the trading room experience helps students to be more successful as they enter the competitive job market. The Commodity Trading Room also provides a vehicle for both students and faculty to conduct research in these areas.
In early 2021, the department launched the Center for Agricultural Profitability, which works to improve the economic viability of the agricultural sector in Nebraska and beyond. The center focuses on research, extension outreach and education related to profitability and supporting informed decision-making and management choices to keep farmers and ranchers financially healthy. It also offers educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students while facilitating collaboration with other units in IANR and across the University of Nebraska system. Van Tassell currently serves as the center’s director.
Van Tassell is proud of these tools, as well as of practical successes such as renovating all of the department’s facilities and classrooms. But his favorite part about leading the department was cheering on its people.
“My greatest joy was to see the number of faculty and staff recognized with internal and national awards for their efforts and successes,” he said.
After he steps down as department head in June, Van Tassell will remain on faculty as a professor of agricultural economics. A national search for his successor as department head will launch later this year.