Dr. Aslihan Spaulding, professor of agribusiness and food industry management, returned to Department of Agriculture as the interim chairperson after serving as the interim chair of the Department of Economics.
Spaulding received a Ph.D. in agricultural economics, an M.S. in economics and agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky, and a B.A. in economics from Bogazici University in Turkey. She joined Illinois State University in 2003 and has served many roles in the Department of Agriculture, including as the graduate program coordinator and the study abroad coordinator. She is currently serving on the board of directors of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
In 2019, Spaulding received the Living Our Values Award for her extraordinary work that exemplifies Illinois State’s core values of learning and scholarship, diversity and inclusion, respect, collaboration, individualized attention, civic engagement, and integrity. Her passion for student success has exposed students to many career opportunities in the food and agribusiness industry. In addition, her work has elevated ISU’s chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) onto the national stage. The student organization won the Outstanding Student Chapter award six times under her guidance.
Spaulding has a strong research portfolio that includes numerous refereed publications with students. Her research interests include survey methodology, farmer and consumer behavior, and strategic agribusiness sales management. In 2021, her expertise in survey methodology contributed to a national team that received a five-year, $10 million USDA grant for a project titled “DiverseCornBelt: Resilient Intensification through Diversity in Midwestern Agriculture.” She is also working on a multi-institutional project to understand the challenges and opportunities farmers face in Illinois, funded by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and a multi-national project, AGRICOMPET, to identify ways of improving smallholder competitiveness and strengthening their position in the value chain in Mediterranean countries, funded by the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area of European Union.
Spaulding has been at ISU for 20 years and knows the department well, including the ISU Farm and the Horticulture Center. She knows ISU policies and has a year of experience as a chairperson for the Department of Economics at ISU. In addition to her expertise in teaching and research, she brings to the table valuable experiences and unique perspectives which will help her succeed in the role: knowledge of the agriculture undergraduate and graduate sequences; understanding of the AGR strategic plan; awareness of the agriculture industry at the state, national and international levels and her proven track record of a strong relationship with our dedicated alumni and industry partners.
Spaulding has also been accepted to LEAD21 and has begun the work related to leadership development supporting agriculture programs in higher education. While the focus of LEAD21 is on leadership in land grant institutions, Spaulding is benefitting from the opportunity to meet and work in a cohort-based leadership development program that will continue through much of the next academic year.
Spaulding has already immersed herself in the new position by meeting prospective students, faculty, staff, alumni, and industry partners. She hopes to expand her commitment to the core values in teaching, research, and service into her new leadership role.