After a warm and pleasant fall semester in Newark, January thought it was March and came in like a lion! It’s a good thing that many students are off on study abroad programs to warmer climates, and faculty are using the time to stay inside and get some writing done or prep for spring semester, which is just two weeks away. Thankfully, we haven’t had a lot of snow, but the university has been closed on two occasions due to icy conditions. I slid through a stop sign on my way home on one of those days – everything was coated in about ¼” of ice and 4-wheel drive was no help. Good thing that everyone else was off the road at that point. On the positive side, the cold weather and relatively quiet winter semester has given us time to get some work done in January. Here’s a few updates.
Progress on Worrilow. The planning for the renovation/upgrade of Worrilow Hall continues. The architects are now focused on the design of individual labs and the common spaces that will serve everyone. We’re repurposing many spaces within the building and capitalizing on shared, flexibly designed labs to position us for increased growth in both research and teaching. One important change is the delay in the move-out date to December 2018. We had planned on moving out in June 2018, but needed more time for planning and permitting of both the new building and the temporary swing space that folks will occupy during construction. Thankfully, this will not delay the completion date – our contractor is confident that they can shave off 6 months from the construction timeline, thus the ribbon cutting is still planned for late summer of 2020. Regarding swing space, we’re looking at a location across the street at STAR Campus to site 2-3 modular buildings to house our research labs. Temporary teaching labs will be kept on bus routes to accommodate students, and we’re either renovating spaces on our CANR campus or sharing existing labs for teaching purposes. The Creamery expansion and Food Pilot Plant space in Worrilow had gotten underway in December, but has been paused temporarily as a new construction firm was brought in. We hope to have this ~3000 square-foot area completed by summer so we can start making cheese and other dairy products. It will be in an area of the building that is relatively autonomous, so it can be occupied during construction of the remainder of Worrilow. Suffice it to say that Worrilow Hall is a subject of daily conversation around here, and we’re all learning a lot about laboratory design! As always, I am grateful for the gifts that continue to come in to support this project.
UD Provost search underway. In the last Blog, I mentioned that Dr. Robin Morgan, former dean of CANR, had accepted the role of interim Provost in October and that UD was launching the search for the permanent provost right away. The search firm and search committee are now in place – see http://udel.edu/provostsearch for more detail. This position is extremely important to UD, and I encourage all of you to nominate people who might fit our institution. In these types of searches, the search firm will proactively recruit people based on leads they receive; they don’t just sit back and hope the best people will apply. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, there are 21 provost searches running right now across the country, so the competition for candidates is keen. Please get involved!
Eric Wommack elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. We are so proud of CANR’s Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, Dr. Eric Wommack, for being elected an Academy Fellow this month! Eric has had a distinguished career as an environmental microbiologist, and he joins a very distinguished group of Fellows from around the world. You can read the full announcement here.
Michelle Rodgers takes LEADelaware class to Argentina. Associate Dean Dr. Michelle Rodgers and about 10 other LEADelaware participants have escaped the cold weather by taking a trip to Argentina. As the title suggests, LEADelaware is a leadership development program for Delaware agricultural professionals, a joint venture between CANR and the Delaware Department of Agriculture. Each cohort goes through a series of workshops on leadership, and the program culminates with an international trip. Last summer, you may recall that I blogged about the trip we made to the Catholic University of Cordoba, Argentina (UCC). This was one of several stops on the LEADelaware trip this January. Pictured here with Michelle is Agostina, a UCC student who will travel to Delaware next summer to enroll in our Extension Scholars program. As an Extension Scholar, Agostina will shadow our Extension agents as they serve the agricultural industry in the state. No doubt, she will leave Delaware with a healthy appreciation of American agricultural practices, which will greatly augment her education at UCC.
Dean’s 5-year review. At UD, deans serve 5-year terms and are generally reviewed in their 4th year to determine if they will be reappointed for another 5-year term. The process is running a bit behind in my case, as I completed my 5th year in August 2017. The good news is that the review committee was formed in early January and the review should get underway shortly. Bruce Weber, Dean of the Lerner College of Business and Economics, is chairing the review, so questions or comments can be directed to him. I chaired the 5-year review of Dean Kathy Matt back in 2013, and we used a combination of surveys, focus groups and interviews to gather feedback from faculty, staff, students and stakeholders. My guess is that my review will be conducted in a similar fashion. So, don’t be surprised if you are contacted to complete a survey or attend a focus group over the next few weeks in relation to my performance as dean. It has been a pleasure to serve in this role.
Retirements, searches and personnel changes
- We still have six searches in progress for faculty:
- Two tenure-track faculty are being sought in Food and Agribusiness Marketing. There were dozens of applicants for these positions and the committee has narrowed the field to conduct Skype interviews with semi-finalists.
- We will conclude interviews for a tenure track faculty member in Statistics before January is out, and hope to make an offer in February. The three finalists were all exceptional individuals.
- The Department of Animal and Food Sciences is down to the semi-finalist stage of a dual hire in One Health. About 60 people applied for these positions.
- Applied Plant Pathology: this search is still in the applicant pool phase. This person will focus on diseases of agronomic crops and will be housed at the Carvel Center in Georgetown.
- At the staff level, we are searching for a Financial Analyst I position to assist with the complexities of managing the college’s budget, grants and contracts.
- The following people have just joined the CANR Family:
- Alison Brayfield, Business Administrator I, Cooperative Extension
- Andrew Adams, UD Botanical Gardens, Horticulture Manager
- Chander Lekha, Analytical Chemist, Core Water Laboratory
- Jack Gelb, Professor of Animal and Food Sciences and specialist in poultry diseases retired after more than 40 years of service on January 15, 2018. Jack served as Department Chair of Animal and Food Sciences for several years and Director of the Avian Biosciences Center for 11 years. He was also an alum of the college and won the highest award given to alumni, the George Worrilow Award. His research on poultry diseases resulted in many publications, grants and invited lectures, and helped define the college and his department as a global leader in this area. Congratulations on an outstanding career, Jack!
Stay warm. I predict that the Blog will NOT see its shadow on February 2nd and we’ll have an early spring. Let’s see if Punxsutawney Phil agrees. Either way, the Blog will return in March in time for Spring Break.