The new school year is in full swing. I hope that you are enjoying the energy that new students have brought to campus and the first taste of fall weather that arrived last week. September is one of my favorite months of the year – it renews our commitment to students and reminds us all how fortunate we are to be working in academia. Whether you are beginning to shape the hearts and minds of the class of 2017, or closing out a wet and wild field season, I’d like to update you on some new things happening in the College.
New Faces. In September, we welcomed two new members of the CANR family – Nancy Gainer, our communications manager, and Victor Peguero, our grants administrator. As the year progresses, we’ll see even more new faces as we have several searches in the works. Faculty searches underway include Statistics, Urban Forestry, and the director of the Longwood Graduate Program, as well as a few additional searches in planning stages. Cooperative Extension has launched searches for professionals in New Castle and Sussex counties thanks in part to a restoration of state funding. We are also organizing a search committee for the next chair of Animal and Food Sciences. All of us can play a role in beating the proverbial bushes to find the best candidates, so please use your network to get the word out. We must endeavor to hire the best candidate, not simply the best candidate in the pool.
New Provost. Dr. Domenico Grasso began his role as the academic leader of the University of Delaware in August. An environmental engineer by training, he has held several positions including department head, dean, and vice president for research. He brings immense experience and a fresh perspective to UD. In the coming academic year, we will see a master plan for the University and a revision to The Path to Prominence under his leadership, among other items. Dr. Grasso will speak at the CANR Fall Faculty Meeting at 9:30 a.m. on December 5, 2013, so please join me in welcoming him to the college at that event.
New Seed Grant RFP Out. I thank Acting Deputy Dean Sherrier for yeoman’s work in developing a new CANR Seed Grant program to stimulate new ideas in teaching, research and extension. We have allocated $200,000 for grants up to $40,000 each to seed projects that have high potential to lead to future funding. The deliverable is a major grant proposal based on the seed project. If you have any questions on the program, please contact Janine.
New Computer Refreshment Program. We are reinstating a computer refreshment program this year with $75,000 being divided across units. Funds will be distributed to unit leaders, who will then make allocations within the unit. Funds permitting, we will continue this program in future years since computers are essential to virtually all that we do.
New Website to be Developed. We have contracted with 2 Fish, a web design firm from Wilmington, to redesign our College web site. They have met with a steering committee assigned to the task and will soon have some mock-ups of a new site for our comment and feedback. The main page will be primarily focused on appealing to prospective students, but the navigation will be designed so that one can easily find research and extension topics and program-level pages. One important point – once the site is redesigned, it’s up to us to keep it current and impactful. I have noticed a few pages here and there that were last updated in 2009 (!).Our communications team will take the lead on managing the site, and each department has selected a point person as a liaison to the team. Our Webmaster Christy Mannering tells me that the WordPress format of the new site will greatly facilitate content management, so please do your part to keep pages fresh.
New Partnerships. Last Thursday, September 19, we sent a contingent of faculty to the first Delmarva Land Grant Summit, which was held in Dover. Attending were faculty and deans from the 1862 and 1890 Land Grant colleges of agriculture and related sciences of the three Delmarva states. Also attending were Director of NIFA Sonny Ramaswamy, several program leaders from NIFA, and Secretary Ed Kee of Delaware Department of Agriculture. We looked at ongoing successful collaborations and discussed ideas for future collaboration on agriculture and natural resources issues among the six institutions. Notably, the six deans agreed to put their money where their mouth is and commit $120,000 ($20,000 from each institution) as a seed grant fund to help foster collaboration across institution lines. We are pulling together a group to develop an RFP for the seed grant funds and plan to launch the program next summer. I hope that many of you will seek out colleagues among these partner institutions and apply to the program.
Master Plan Drafted. I am drowning in Master Plan comments and changes currently, but the water has never felt so good! I am thankful for the thoughtful input from unit leaders and others who have read the first drafts. I have several more meetings with unit leaders, and therefore several more edits to do, but as one person commented, it is starting to feel like the future. I am also finding good alignment between the Master Plan and the Path to Prominence and the NIFA Strategic plans. I believe it will be ready to share with all of you soon, though we are still awaiting stakeholder input from some units and feedback from the Academic Program Reviews in ANFS and PLSC. One of the centerpieces of the plan is defining our unique strengths – the areas of selective excellence we need to pursue to be relevant and impactful in the future. At the last President’s Roundtable meeting, I was pleased to hear President Harker ask the question, “What are our unique strengths?” as he was laying out the timeline and context of the Path to Prominence version 2.0 that UD will undertake in 2014. I hope you will take some time to read and comment upon the Master Plan draft when it comes your way.
Worrilow Award. I am pleased to announce that Robin Talley, a 1984 graduate from our College, has been honored with the Worrilow Award for excellence in service to agriculture among CANR alumni. Robin Received a BS in Agricultural Economics that year and went on to obtain an MBA from UD in 1996. She currently serves as State Director for the Farm Service Agency (FSA). We will honor her and our other distinguished alumni awardees – John Cantello, Zaiqi Pan, and Bernard Murphy – on October 11 at 11 a.m. in the Townsend Commons as part of Homecoming Week festivities.
Worrilow Hall. Speaking of Worrilow, we have invited applications from architectural firms to bid on a plan for repairing and renovating Worrilow Hall. The successful firm will develop a plan over the next few months that will provide a vision of a more flexible, functional Worrilow Hall. A concrete plan will help us as we attempt to raise the funds needed for renovations. One of the first steps in such a plan is to survey the residents of Worrilow for input, so please be on the lookout for a web-based survey (and don’t delete it!). Your input is critical, and will be shared in a town hall meeting later in the planning process. I have said many times that the condition of Worrilow Hall is the single greatest obstacle on our road to a brighter future, as so much of our science and teaching depends on that facility. Please be sure to contact the architects and/or steering committee with your ideas; funnel your input through Jenny McDermott, our Facilities Manager.
Best wishes for a fantastic fall semester!