Endowed professorship position filled by ISU cooperative economics professor

Caitlin Deaver

The Iowa Institute for Cooperatives is supporting an endowed professorship position filled by Keri Jacobs, assistant professor of agriculture and life sciences economics. 

The Iowa Institute for Cooperatives is a leader in the world of cooperatives and has been providing a proven business model for Iowan economic progress since 1951.

Roger Ginder, professor of agricultural and life sciences economics, held the previous cooperatives economist position for 31 years. Ginder retired in 2010, and was a nationally recognized expert in cooperative financial and strategic management.

“We had a close working relationship with [Ginder], a cooperatives faculty member at ISU,” said David Holm, executive director for the institute. “[After Ginder’s retirement], the position needed to be filled because of its importance to Iowa agriculture.”

Jacobs was hired in 2010 and undertook the endowed position in August 2012.

“I am excited about the same thing as I was before [the position became endowed],” Jacobs said. “My goal is to still increase the scope and understanding of cooperatives.”

IIC began raising money for the goal of $1 million to support the endowed professorship two years ago.

“The Iowa Institute for Cooperatives wanted to ensure someone was always in this specific field of economics,” Jacobs said. “With the way the Institute has stepped up, I think it is a unique undertaking for an industry.”

Since joining the faculty at Iowa State, Jacobs has worked on various topics of research. She has studied conservation, bioenergy production and distribution as well as feed availability concerns for pork producers. Jacobs has also taught courses in agricultural finance, farm business management and applied economic optimization.

Jacobs currently teaches two classes – Econ 466, an agricultural finance course, and Econ 332, a class on cooperatives. She stresses that students should take advantage of her cooperatives course, as it can be a potential career option.

“Students do not have to be studying ag [agriculture] or economics to be interested in cooperatives,” Jacobs said. “Cooperatives are in every industry.”

The endowed position is 50 percent extension, 35 percent research focused on cooperatives and 15 percent teaching.

Jacobs’ responsibilities will include developing research and extension activities on the economics of cooperatives, with a focus on agriculture.

This may entail the role of cooperatives in agricultural markets, vertical integration, innovation and product development, contracting, ownership, control rights, organizational strategies, finance, risk and risk-sharing in commodity markets, among others.

“We are looking forward to working with [Jacobs],” Holm said. “For Iowa State students, it is a valuable tool to understand cooperatives, and they can do that with this endowed cooperatives position.”