Summer 2022

In Vivo

Dean Kate VandenBosch in front of a field.
Photo by Michael P. King


As I mentioned in the fall 2021 issue, I am stepping down as dean of CALS this summer. This will be my last column for Grow magazine. Although it’s bittersweet to write those words, I am happy to report that I leave the deanship in highly capable hands.

Our new dean, Glenda Gillaspy, begins her tenure in August. Glenda comes to us from Virginia Tech, where she has been a professor of biochemistry since 1998 and head of the department since 2015. She brings a track record of success in enhancing graduate education, attracting and retaining new faculty, and securing resources for teaching and research. I have been enjoyed getting to know Glenda while sharing information about CALS. You’ll hear more from her in our fall issue.

This leadership transition comes at a time when CALS is well-positioned for success. We just completed a fruitful comprehensive fundraising campaign. We are also making great progress in developing new academic programs, and the early indications are that the surge in first-year enrollment at UW—Madison is translating into growth for CALS. Our research and outreach programs are strong and have been bolstered by new federal funding for initiatives that are tied to our strengths and priorities. Here are three examples:

The latest federal spending package includes $39.7 million for the USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) to build a new plant germplasm facility at our West Madison Agricultural Research Station. The facility will be used by plant scientists from UW and the USDA ARS Vegetable Crop Research Unit. It will bolster our Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics Program, which has been going strong for nearly 55 years.

Another example: CALS received $10 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease (see “Vector Vigilance” in Grow, Summer 2018). This center is already making terrific progress on research into illnesses transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes. The influx of new funds will help CALS integrate vector-borne disease into instruction and training associated with the college’s new global health major.

Yet another major project receiving a significant federal investment is the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance, a partnership between the Center for Dairy Research and the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association that supports research and technical assistance for the dairy industry. The additional $20 million will expand the program’s reach from five Midwestern states to ten.

I could go on with many more stories about the terrific momentum in CALS. It’s clear that our new dean will have exciting projects to champion, changes to guide, and newly recruited faculty, staff, and students to welcome.

With the stage set for a prosperous future for CALS, I am pleased to say I will be remaining with the college to pursue some special projects before retirement. For example, I’ll be contributing to curriculum planning in the departments of agronomy and horticulture and also scoping out possibilities for the college’s non-credit instruction portfolio. I also hope to learn more about how to communicate effectively with the public about the plant sciences. I expect there will be more, but not enough to impinge on volunteering in Allen Centennial Garden and time with friends and family.

At the time that I am writing this, with just three weeks to go before I pass the baton, I am feeling extraordinarily grateful for the experiences of the past decade. I am proud of all that CALS and its community have accomplished. And I am most appreciative of the many relationships formed with colleagues, alumni, and friends over the years. I am looking forward to even more opportunities to cross paths.

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