Ranch program to grant 1st degree

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    In one month, Paxton Motheral will become the first student to receive a bachelor’s degree from TCU’s ranch management program.Motheral first enrolled at TCU as a finance major and planned to receive certification from the ranch management program because his family is involved in the ranching industry.

    TCU began offering a degree in ranch management in 2004, but before applying for the degree, students must first complete TCU’s university core curriculum requirements, said Kerry Cornelius, director of the ranch management program.

    Each year, about 35 students who want a certificate, degree or minor in ranch management are admitted to the program, Cornelius said. Students who want a degree are in the same nine-month program and 34 credit-hour classes as certificate and minor applicants, but they will take additional business and science courses, Cornelius said.

    “When the degree for ranch management was introduced, I was already taking some of the business classes it required,” Motheral said. “It made sense to apply for the degree.”

    The ranch management certification program is more than 50 years old, Cornelius said. He said most students who get a certificate have already been to college. Students who haven’t attended college before entering the ranch management certification program have had experience working in the ranching industry, he said.

    “All applicants are interviewed to make sure that they have some sort of experience in the ranching industry,” Cornelius said. “Experience helps them understand courses offered in the program.”

    Cornelius said students only take ranch management courses while enrolled in the program.

    “In addition to in-class instruction, students take five-week long trips throughout the semesters to ranches all over Texas,” Cornelius said. “There’s no way they could afford to miss classes in other courses for that amount of time.”

    Motheral, who completed the ranch management program last spring, said it was unlike any other experience.

    “You’re with the same group of people each day,” Motheral said. “Some of those guys are now my best friends.”

    Motheral was a good candidate for the degree option, said Jeff Geider, director of the Institute of Ranch Management, which is affiliated with the overall program.

    “Mr. Motheral contributed to the program and showed much interest in the ranching industry,” Geider said. “He had good grades, participated in class and was willing to help other students.