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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU to train future leaders in economic development

New Mexico State University is preparing to welcome a unique group of students to campus - a group to be trained in how to make a real difference in local economies.

Beginning in fall 2008, NMSU will be the first university in the country to offer a Doctor of Economic Development. Unlike graduates of regular Ph.D. programs, DED graduates are not expected to go into academic research; they are expected to actively apply their skills and knowledge to make a difference in a community.

"We plan to produce graduates who are connected to the academic knowledge but who are also able to solve real problems in the field," said Rick Adkisson, DED program director.

"This program once again demonstrates NMSU's commitment to economic development in our state and region," said Garrey Carruthers, business dean and vice president for economic development. "This is an exciting program because it just makes good sense."

Adkisson estimates 15 to 17 students will be officially admitted and enrolled into the program later this summer.

"It's a pretty good size for a first cohort. If we continue to recruit that many every year, we'll end up having a pretty large program," he said.

Student diversity will be an important component to the program. Once the admission process is complete, Adkisson expects approximately one-third of the class will consist of professionals already in the field of economic development. Another third will be students interested in international economic development. The remainder of the class will be continuing graduate students with interests in economic development.

The College of Business will offer three new courses for students in the program this fall, including Introduction to Economic Development, Economic Development Theory and Economic Development Modeling. An additional three courses will be offered in the spring semester.

"These first classes will get the students thinking and begin to build a framework for the development work they are going to do," Adkisson said.

The introductory course will be an overview of economic development from local, regional and international perspectives. The theory course will explore existing theory in the field and how it is applied. The modeling course will focus on the tools used for financial analysis of economic development projects. Additional courses already offered by the university will also be available for DED students.

Adkisson said the program will allow students and faculty to work on actual economic development problems submitted by the state and local governments.

"This program will challenge our faculty to think about economic development more broadly, and to deal with some very practical issues," he said. "In the long run, it will help us strengthen our departments."

The DED is a partnership between the Department of Economics and International Business in the College of Business and the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness in the College of Agriculture and Home Economics.