Five years ago this past September, I received a call from Chancellor John Wiley offering me the opportunity to lead a great college at a great public university toward its future, strengthening its core commitments and bringing new energy and focus to its missions. In the time I have served as dean, we have made historic progress in many areas. We have modernized operations and improved the efficiency and impact of our work. We have attracted new resources for research, teaching and outreach and recruited more than 50 new professors, enhancing what is already the most productive and excellent faculty in agricultural and life sciences in the world. We have improved our campus facilities and research stations, recommitted to our Farm and Industry Short Course, and strengthened partnerships that are at the core of our missions both within Wisconsin and throughout the world.
Now, recognizing that we have accomplished so much of what I felt I was brought here to do, it’s time for a new chapter for me and for CALS. At the end of this year, I will step down as CALS dean to focus on some issues of special importance to me. Chancellor Biddy Martin has given me a unique opportunity to study our campus wide commitments to sustainability sciences, which will allow me to bring insights from agriculture, environmental and life sciences to help define the research agenda for our university. I’m enthusiastic about taking this challenge, which builds very naturally on my own research interests, my experiences as dean and my recent position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
I take this step with the confidence that the college is in a very strong position to continue its progress—with its budget balanced, a dynamic faculty on the rise, growing enrollments and many friends. I am delighted to share that Bill Tracy, current chair of the Department of Agronomy and a veteran of many campus leadership positions, has agreed to serve as interim dean while the chancellor and provost conduct a national search for the next CALS dean. Bill is an exceptional scholar and leader—one who was deeply influential in my decision to come to Wisconsin—and he will represent and direct CALS with grace and vision.
As I make this transition, please know how deeply I appreciate your support and friendship. I know that you, like me, cherish the college and all that it stands for, and together we will continue to add new pages to its illustrious history. Thank you—and On, Wisconsin!