Dr. S. Scott Ferguson, professor of business and management at SUNY Cobleskill, has been named executive director of the College’s Institute for Rural Vitality. Ferguson will lead the Institute’s continued work in engaging regional partners in a collective effort to enhance the community and economic vitality in rural New York.

A presence on the SUNY Cobleskill campus for more than 12 years, Dr. Ferguson has served in multiple roles in addition to his tenure as a professor in the Business Administration degree program. He served as the College’s inaugural chief diversity officer and has led the planning and implementation of many campus-wide initiatives, including serving as chair for SUNY Cobleskill’s 2017 Strategic Planning program.

Outside of his experience at SUNY Cobleskill, Dr. Ferguson is an ambitious entrepreneur and business management professional, with successes to his credit ranging from small business start-ups to multinational, Fortune 500 companies. As an extension of his business ventures, he currently serves on the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee and is a former president of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. He also serves as president of the Cobleskill Auxiliary Services Board of Directors and vice president of the Canajoharie Central School District Board of Education.

“Dr. Ferguson’s leadership qualities have served to enhance many facets of our institution, and he has played an instrumental role in defining and advancing the values of SUNY Cobleskill,” said Dr. Marion Terenzio, president of SUNY Cobleskill. “His expertise in economic and community development will be of great resource as the Institute for Rural Vitality continues to elevate its mission in the spirit of collaboration and stewardship.”

The Institute for Rural Vitality was introduced in 2016 through a $749,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a unique partnership with Albany Law School. The Institute addresses the region’s most pressing issues in economic development and education, from college access and career readiness to legal support for agricultural businesses. Its distinct centers place SUNY Cobleskill students and faculty at the forefront of community partnerships and coalitions, adding their experience in support these initiatives.

SUNY Cobleskill was recently awarded an additional $761,141 through a USDA Agriculture Innovation Center grant. The Institute for Rural Vitality directed the funding to expand the services of the Farm & Food Business Incubator, a program offered in partnership with the Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship (CADE) to better equip growers and producers in the Mohawk Valley in addressing the farming industry’s diversification and profitability challenges.

To date, the Institute has been instrumental in securing more than $6 million for community-based economic development projects and actively recruited a private partner poised to build an $84 million grow center on campus. The Institute’s commitment to regional development has recently been recognized by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) as the recipient of its 2019 Excellence and Innovation Award for Regional and Economic Development.