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Croatian university representative visits CALS

A new relationship between N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Croatian university offers opportunities for CALS students.

N.C. State recently signed a memorandum of understanding with University of Zagreb in the Croatian capital, and in July, Ivana Prosinecki of Zagreb’s International Relations Office visited N.C. State to share information about what the university could offer for students here.

The University of Zagreb dates to 1669, and the Faculty of Agriculture there – similar to colleges in the U.S. – is the oldest and leading agriculture faculty in Croatia. The entire university serves 56,000 students, with 1,800 in agriculture.

Dr. Paul Mueller, recently retired as head of international programs for CALS, said he and Dr. Gerry Luginbuhl, CALS assistant director of academic programs, first learned of Zagreb University at a meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities held in 2008. When they discovered similarities between N.C. State and Zagreb University’s Faculty of Agriculture, they invited Zagreb’s dean of agriculture and director of international programs to visit N.C. State.

In 2010, Dr. Ken Esbenshade, CALS associate dean and director of academic programs, spoke at Zagreb. Mueller also visited and signed the MOU with Zagreb in May. Prosinecki was visiting Nebraska in July, and Mueller invited her to speak at N.C. State.

In many ways, agriculture in Croatia mirrors production in North Carolina. The country produces a diverse range of agricultural products in three distinct climatic regions, similar to North Carolina’s three regions.

In Croatia, the continental region has hot summers and cold winters. Major crops produced there include sunflowers, corn, wheat and soybeans. The country’s mountain region, with harsh winters, is home to small farms that produce goats and potatoes. The area’s major natural resource is its forests.

Croatia’s coastal region on the Adriatic Sea has a mild, Mediterranean climate that attracts tourists. Agricultural production there includes olives, fruits and wine grapes.

Paul Mueller at Zagreb University
Dr. Paul Mueller, right, visits a Zagreb University lab.

The Faculty of Agriculture includes 441 employees, with 271 of those engaged in teaching. The college has 28 departments and six experiment stations. One closest to the university is for teaching and research. There are also stations that focus on fruit and grape production and a Center for Grasses that specializes in cattle breeding and mountain agricultural products.

The academic year in Croatia differs somewhat from the academic calendar at N.C. State. The winter semester runs from October through February, and the summer semester runs March through June. A number of graduate agriculture classes are taught in English. Several CALS faculty said the summer semester would be the most logical time for our students to study in Zagreb because it coincides more closely with our academic year.

This summer, several University of Nebraska students are working as interns at the University of Zagreb, Prosinecki said. The graduate students are working with a mentor and faculty members to conduct research and data collection in the lab and in the field.

In addition to N.C. State and the University of Nebraska, Zagreb University has MOUs with several other Iowa State and Montana State universities. The university also has developed relationships with Penn State and Purdue universities, as well as the University of Georgia.

In addition to student internships, Prosinecki would like for Zagreb and N.C. State to pursue faculty and Fulbright exchanges.

-Written by N. Hampton, or 919.513.3128