CALS has given a great deal to me since I arrived here as an assistant professor in 1984. In the past 27 years, I have had opportunities to build a productive research program on the breeding and genetics of sweet corn, to teach and advise many hundreds of bright students and to forge relationships with people across Wisconsin and around the world. Throughout my career, my experiences in CALS have helped shape not just the work I do, but also the way in which I do it.
So it was with some sense of indebtedness that this fall I accepted Provost Paul DeLuca’s invitation to serve as CALS’ interim dean. I am humbled to serve our college during this transition, and I will dedicate myself fully to ensuring its continued success.
The good news is that the college is in outstanding condition. Our faculty are world-renowned for their expertise and productivity—this past year, we earned more in federal and private research funding than in any year in the college’s history. We continue to graduate students with the knowledge and skills to make a difference in their careers, and our alumni continue to dazzle us with their leadership and accomplishments.
We also enjoy strong partnerships with agricultural and scientific industries in the state and play an important role in helping ensure that these businesses remain a vibrant part of our state’s economy.
In these times, however, to hold steady is to fall behind. As interim dean, I will work to make CALS even stronger in all of our missions. And although both the state and federal budgets will be constrained by economic factors beyond our control, I believe that progress is attainable. During the next several months, the CALS community will be engaged in critical conversations about how to increase the efficiency and impact of our activities—and because I know this community, I know those conversations will be productive.
The faculty, staff, students and alumni who devote their lives to making CALS a special place deserve a great dean. My top priority will be to put CALS in the strongest position possible to recruit and hire the best scholar and leader to assume this role permanently. In the meantime, you can rest assured that CALS will not pause. We have too much momentum to carry us any direction but forward.