A person is only supposed to get one once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In my professional life, I’ve been fortunate enough to have at least three.
The first came when I received a federal grant to pursue my graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later at Cornell University. Everything that followed in my career has flowed from that support.
The second came when I was asked to serve as CALS dean. I recognized this as a chance to become part of an institution that makes a profound and daily impact on lives in Wisconsin and throughout the world. Having witnessed the accomplishments of this community firsthand, I can tell you that CALS earns its sterling national reputation every day with the intelligence and innovative spirit of its faculty, staff, students and alumni.
It’s because of that national respect for CALS that I have been given another of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I have accepted an appointment as deputy undersecretary for research, education and economics for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a role that will allow me to participate in the conversation about our national priorities related to food, agriculture, health and natural resources.
Our college’s tradition of contributing to national leadership in agriculture is a long and proud one, and I am humbled to inherit that legacy. I will be joining a team charged with bringing transformative change to an agency that funds more than $2 billion of research activities annually and is interconnected deeply with land-grant institutions such as UW-Madison. I believe I can help spark that change by bringing forward ideas that have found success in CALS and Wisconsin.
Chancellor Martin has granted me a one-year leave from my duties as dean to take on this new assignment. But I head to Washington knowing that CALS is in good hands. I am delighted to announce that the chancellor has appointed Irwin Goldman, our wonderful vice-dean, as interim dean. Irwin will guide the college with wisdom, compassion and humor, and I am certain that CALS will move ahead at full speed under his leadership.
Thank you for your support for the college and for me as I take on this new adventure. It is the wisdom and spirit of this community that has opened this door, and I hope that we can all walk through it together.