Winter 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 4

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End-of-Decade Issue

Some confusion exists about when the 1990s started. Officially, the last decade of the 1900s begins on January 1, 1991 because a decade or century can only begin with year one (1991) not year zero (1990). In other words, 1990 has been the tenth and final year of the 1980s rather than the first year of the 1990s. The new millennium, then, begins on January 1, 2001, not 2000 - just to help you plan ahead.

That makes this issue of the Journal of Extension the very last issue of the 1980s. Given all the changes Extension has experienced in the last decade, it seemed especially appropriate to devote this issue to an inside look at Extension. All of the feature articles provide an assessment of some aspect of how Extension functions.

The To the Point section is a debate about Extension's relationship to the land-grant mission. Norland argues that Extension isn't just the service part of the land-grant trinity: teaching, research, and service. She argues that the perception of Extension as primarily service does a disservice to what Extension staff do and contributes to the lack of respect accorded many Extension faculty and staff within universities. Responses to Norland's position come from Robert Crom, Extension's official representative to the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) and Maria Russell of the University of Connecticut.

McAlister's article assumes that Extension is service and looks at how that perception affects the tenure, promotion, and salary of Extension faculty. He concludes that academic officers in universities have difficulty evaluating Extension work and place it after research and teaching in importance.

Adelaine and Foster examine who really influences and determines what Extension programs are offered to clientele. They note that Extension places great emphasis on actively involving clientele and major stakeholders in program planning and issues identification. Their research, however, shows that clientele do not feel much influence over or ownership of Extension programs. The client groups they surveyed perceive Extension staff as primarily determining what Extension does.

The financial belt-tightening of the 1980s and the emergence of issues programming have led to new staffing approaches in Extension. Two of those new approaches are examined in this issue. Bartholomew and Smith examine Ohio's introduction of multicounty agent positions and find significant stressors for agents in those positions. Hutchins looks at Minnesota's efforts to have county agents specialize as part of multicounty clusters. He finds special challenges for 4-H agent specialization - and a potential solution.

The 1980s have also witnessed the computerization of Extension at all levels. It's hard to imagine Extension today without personal computers, but a decade ago PCs were just emerging on the business scene. Smith and Kotrlik find there's still significant computer anxiety among many Extension agents.

The People Side of Extension

Computers haven't and won't replace people. Extension is a people business and increasingly, with diverse clientele to serve, Extension is faced with the challenges of making affirmative action real and meaningful. A special section of this issue presents three articles on women and Extension.

This year, the historically black colleges became 100 years old. A special Futures contribution featuring Extension Administrator Myron Johnsrud and Dean Dan Godfrey looks at the past and future role of historically black colleges in Extension as these "1890 institutions" celebrate their centennial anniversary. A separate feature article looks at how Extension's 75th anniversary was portrayed in newspapers throughout the country.

These articles, and all the other sections of this decade-ending issue of the Journal, show a much-changed and ever-changing Extension organization. The Contents for this volume of the Journal (XXVIII) appears on pages 39-40. The Contents of titles reads like a historical outline of recent issues Extension has been dealing with.

Looking to new Extension frontiers of the next decade, Miller argues in Forum that Extension's next new National Initiative should be global environmental change.

See you next decade.