May is a month where the CANR family takes its cues from our six-legged, pollinating friends in the apiary – we’re busy with a capital “B”. As the honeybees gorge themselves on pollen and nectar, our faculty are busy wrapping up the semester, preparing for finals week and ultimately, graduation day. On the research and extension fronts, test plots are being installed and agents are trouble-shooting problems for growers that have arisen due to variable spring weather. In many cases, graduate students are getting ready for another field season, all while trying to finish their own classes. On the farm, the lambing and calving seasons have just concluded, so there are literally more mouths to feed of the ruminant kind. Admitted students have just sent in their deposits and given us a preliminary estimate of the incoming class for Fall ’17, which is up, by the way (more below). I’m sure all of you are busy as well – in a good way – as spring presents outdoor opportunities galore. So, I invite you to take five and get caught up on some Blog-worthy items.
Ag Day 2017. The 42nd annual Ag Day was an incredible success! In my nearly five years as dean, I don’t recall better attendance, better weather or a better team of volunteers. The theme was superheroes, and many of the youngest visitors were given capes to wear as they toured the grounds and learned about plants, animals, insects and all-things-agricultural. You can read more about the day here. The folks who volunteered to plan and deliver the event are all superheroes. I am grateful for our event coordinator Grace Wisser, student leader Keith Medwid and his student colleagues, and for the many faculty, staff and friends who helped put on a great event for the Newark community. Onward to number 43!
UDairy Creamery opens in Wilmington. On Tuesday, May 23, 2017 we will open the UDairy Creamery Market in downtown Wilmington with a block party to be held on the 800 block of Market Street from noon-2 p.m. with free ice cream available during the two-hour window.
We’re set to have the mayor, President Assanis and others on hand as we cut the ribbon on this new venture. Located at 815 N. Market Street, this site will employ 20-25 students from UD’s Associate in Arts program and will be managed by LeeAnne Ahamad, one of CANR’s newest employees. In addition to ice cream, we plan to serve other food items such as gourmet grilled cheese, which will be made from our own cheese once the creamery expansion project is completed later this year. In addition to the creamery’s ice cream products and grilled cheese, honey, wool blankets and other items produced by the college will be available for purchase. The farm-to-table menu will include burgers, salads and other items straight from the University’s organic garden.
This will nearly double our level of student engagement and entrepreneurship training that we provide via the UDairy Creamery.
Fall ’17 enrollment on track for record. We are having a great kick off to reaching our “20 by 20” goal of raising enrollment 20% by Fall, 2020. As of May 8, the college had 184 freshmen and 12 transfer enrollees, for a total Fall ’17 class of 196! There are also more transfer students who have applied and could matriculate in the coming weeks. I believe this is a record, but will have to look through the archives to be sure – at the very least, it is the highest in ten years. The entering class is also the 2nd most diverse of any of the colleges at UD. I am grateful for all of the work that faculty, staff, and current students put in to make sure every prospective student is welcomed and encouraged to enroll at UD.
Graduation weekend fast approaching! The main reason we are busy bees this time of year is graduation. This year, the CANR Convocation will be Friday, May 26th at 4 p.m. in the Bob Carpenter Center, where students will “walk” and be recognized individually; UD’s Commencement is on the following day in the football stadium. Other ceremonies that I will attend include the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony (8 a.m., North Green), the Honors Convocation (10 a.m., South Green) and the Longwood Graduate Program Graduation Dinner (6:30 p.m., Longwood Gardens). It takes a lot of people to plan and execute these events, so once again I am grateful for our faculty and staff who get involved every year. I never get tired of seeing their smiling faces (and those of their relatives) as they waltz across the stage!
Retirements, searches and personnel changes
Searches for new faculty and staff positions continue as the college has been experiencing a relatively large number of retirements. Here’s an update:
- Erin Sparks has taken the plant molecular biology position in Plant and Soil Sciences and should arrive in June. She comes to us from Duke University, where she has held a postdoctoral position in a prestigious lab focused on molecular aspects of root development and function. She rose to the top of an applicant pool of over 160 in one of the most competitive searches we’ve run in five years. I am grateful to Randy Wisser and others on this search committee.
- Two extension faculty positions are being filled in the departments of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology and Plant and Soil Sciences. In each of the two closely related searches, we have had over 25 applicants. Once these folks are on board, we’ll have a strong, interdisciplinary “crops team” in Sussex County, with expertise in agronomy, entomology, pathology, weed science, plant breeding, and horticultural crop management. Special thanks to Mark Isaacs, Carvel Research and Education Center Director, and Michelle Rodgers, Extension Director, for leading this effort, and to Amy Shober, Mark VanGessel, and Greg Shriver for their leadership on the search committees.
- Three faculty members will retire at the end of June: Judy Hough-Goldstein (ENWC), Larry Cogburn (ANFS), and Carl Toensmeyer (APEC). Each of them made significant contributions to the college over their 35-plus year careers. We wish them well as they move on to another chapter of their lives.
- Two staff members will retire in July: Richard Morris, long-time Dairy Manager for the Newark Farm, and Dot Abbott, an extension agent who worked on natural resources and environmental issues out of our Kent County Office. Each had a great impact on their colleagues, our students and the citizens of the state and region, and they will be sorely missed.
- Adam Thomas assumed the role of interim Communications Director for the College on May 13, following the departure of Catherine Hamrick. Adam has “been there, done that” as he served in the interim role during the previous search for the Communications Director position. We wish Catherine well as she transitions to a new career – we will miss her creativity and wonderful sense of humor!
- We welcome several other new faces to CANR:
- Catherine VanSciver (Administrative Assistant II, Georgetown)
- Michelle Ernst Voegele (Extension Nutrition Assistant)
- Breanna Banks (Extension Program Coordinator, New Castle County)
- Allison Connor (Administrative Assistant I, Newark)
- Andrew King (Computing Support Specialist I, Newark)
Special thanks to all of the faculty and staff that have served on search committees and have done the behind-the-scenes work to bring the best candidates to the CANR family.
- Josh Duke wins CANR Excellence in Teaching Award! The second awardee for the College’s highest teaching recognition has a long history of great teaching and mentoring in applied economics. The award committee commented that Josh’s accomplishments were “wonderfully representative of his passion and enthusiasm” for both traditional classroom teaching of undergraduates as well as mentoring graduate students successfully to MS and PhD degrees. Congrats Josh!
- Charles Bartlett wins a university Excellence in Teaching award! It is not every year that we have a university-wide award winner, so we are very proud of Dr. Bartlett’s outstanding accomplishment, as are his entomology students!
- The Benton Award is named after Bill Benton, former CANR Associate Dean for Research, and it goes to graduate students who have made significant contributions to research during their graduate program. Adrienne Shearer (PhD, ANFS) and Grace Savoy-Burke (MS, ENWC) have won the 2017 Benton Awards. Well done!
As we head into graduation, I’d like to leave you with an excerpt from an unsolicited letter to President Assanis from a grateful parent, Mrs. Patricia Gallagher of Dover, Massachusetts. Her letter conveys the gratitude that many parents feel when their son or daughter graduates and goes off to pursue their passion in life.
“Dear Mr. President,
As the parent of a 2017 soon to be graduate of the University of Delaware, I write you to praise the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Our daughter, Margaret E. Gallagher, will graduate UD with all the tools necessary to continue her dream of becoming a veterinarian. Maggie was accepted to five vet schools and will attend Tufts Veterinary School in the fall. UD played a big part in helping her get there.
Maggie was accepted to a number of undergraduate programs, however she chose UD for the hands-on experiences she would be exposed to, the small AG school setting within a larger university and the beautiful campus. However, it was her all day visit and shadowing of a senior pre-vet student in 2013 that clinched her decision. The meeting for students and parents, led by Dr. Kung, was the icing on the cake. He could not have been more informative regarding the program, expectations and how prepared students will be when applying to vet schools. I would like to thank Dr. Lesa Griffiths for being such a positive influence on Maggie. Dr. Griffiths gave Maggie the guidance and confidence she needed throughout the vet school application process. I wanted to take the time to acknowledge the professors, veterinarians and support staff you have working at the CANR.”
Thank you, Mrs. Gallagher, and all of the parents who trusted us with their sons and daughters during their time at CANR. It was an honor and privilege to serve them. We look forward to sending them off to change the world on May 27th!