December 19, 2013
As the holidays draw near, I am reminded how thankful I should be for many things, both personal and professional. So, in this edition of the Dean’s Blog, let me count the ways………..
Yes, there is a lot to be thankful for, and the above items are just highlights among many good things that have happened recently. But life is more important than work, and I hope that you’ll be thankful for, and make good use of, some much deserved time off with family and friends beginning next week.
Wishing you all the best this joyous season,
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!
I can’t believe it’s July already, and that next month I will celebrate my one-year anniversary as a Blue Hen! I am thankful for all of the experiences in this first year, and eager to launch into the upcoming academic year.
As we look back on the spring semester in the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, there have been many wonderful stories of success. First and foremost are the stories of our talented class of 2013 graduates. In late May, we celebrated their accomplishments and future at our convocation and commencement exercises. We celebrated students like Melanie Allen, recipient of the Emalea Pusey Warner and Alexander J. Taylor Sr. award as the outstanding woman of the graduating class, as well as Jacquelyn Marchese and Michelle Windle, the recipients of the 2013 William J. Benton Graduate Student Awards.
While we are sad to see our graduates leave, we look with great excitement on the incoming class of 2017. One of our goals in the College is to raise undergraduate enrollment at least 15% by 2015 and with this incoming class we are well on our way to doing so. So far, we have logged commitments from over 180 new students for Fall 2013, about 11% more than Fall 2012, with 21 honors students compared to 19 last year – one of our highest enrollments in years.
With a larger population on campus comes the need for more dollars in support of students, faculty and programs. Fiscal year 2013 was a strong year for fundraising, and I am pleased to report that the college raised over $6.8 million dollars in gifts and pledges – eclipsing a college-wide goal of $4.8 million by over 40%. This total included two commitments of $1 million and a generous planned gift estimated at $2 million. This overwhelming display of generosity enables us to continue to provide scholarships (merit based and need based) for students, maintain our wonderful outdoor learning labs like the Botanic Gardens and the UD Farm, add resources to burgeoning projects like the UDairy Creamery, and attract and retain renowned faculty who are truly changing the landscape of agriculture and natural resources through their research and teaching. Faculty like Limin Kung, the S. Hallock du Pont Professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, who is one of the leading experts on silage in the United States and has maintained close ties with 3 different Brazilian Universities for the past 10 years. Or like Don Sparks, the S. Hallock du Pont Chair in Soil and Environmental Chemistry at the University of Delaware, who has been appointed to a three-year term as chair of the U.S. National Committee for Soil Science (USNC/SS).
Our alumni are also day-to-day examples of the teaching and preparedness we offer at UD. In June, we were proud to congratulate W. Edwin Kee Jr. ’73 ’75M ’96M, Secretary of Agriculture for the state of Delaware, for his induction into the 2013 University of Delaware Alumni Association’s Alumni Wall of Fame.
As I hope you will read, the entire University is amidst a period of great growth. We are truly excited to share our progress and plans with you, and I hope you read this latest newsletter with great excitement and offer your feedback. Have a wonderful remainder of the summer.
~Mark Rieger, Dean
Ice Cream Truck
Thanks to a partnership between CANR and the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the UDairy Creamery will now be equipped with an ice cream truck, allowing for students from UD to get hands-on experience with a real-world business.
Keep an eye out for the Creamery Truck all next week at the State Fair!
Equine Science Gift
This winter the College received a transformational gift from Stuart M. and Suzanne B. Grant of Greenville, Del., to develop and support an Equine Studies Program. The Grants’ support will create an equine studies minor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences that will be available to UD students.
In 2009, 14 students from the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources were accepted into veterinary schools. This past year, 10 of those students finished up their studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Those students talked about how their time at CANR helped prepare them for a career in veterinary sciences.
Largest Crowd ever for Ag Day
Beautiful weather, great entertainment and a variety of agricultural and environmental exhibits combined to make Ag Day 2013 the largest in history, with more than 8,000 visitors in attendance. Thank you so much for everyone who attended as well as all of those who helped with the planning and preparation of the event.
Doug Tallamy Garden Club of America honor
Doug Tallamy, chair of the University of Delaware’s Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, was recently awarded with the Garden Club of America’s Margaret Douglas Medal for notable service to the cause of conservation education.
Tallamy, a proponent of the use of native plants in gardening, received the medal during an award reception held in Philadelphia.
CANR at the Philadelphia Flower Show
CANR was well represented at the 2013 Philadelphia International Flower Show held in March. In addition to having an interdisciplinary class led by professor Jules Bruck present their design at the flower show, CANR graduate Sam Lemheney, who graduated in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in plant science, serves as the Director of the Philadelphia Flower Show.
Happy New Year fellow Blue Hens!
I am thankful to enter a new year, be the new dean, and communicate with you in a new way. Indeed there are a lot of new and exciting things going on in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I hope you will find this electronic newsletter – Food for Thought – worthwhile and informative. We intend to bring it to you several times per year to keep you up to date on our accomplishments, events, challenges and opportunities. Importantly, the electronic format allows you to provide feedback on various issues, or simply update us on new things in your life and work. We’d love to hear from you!
We are embarking on a college-wide master planning process, evaluating our core strengths and looking for ways that we can have greater impact on agriculture and natural resource issues that face Delaware and the world. As part of the master plan, we intend to grow enrollment to meet the demand for agriculture and natural resource professionals; studies show that there are almost two jobs for every graduate in the agriculture and natural resource sectors of the economy. The good news is that applications for admission to the college are up 26% compared to last year, so we’re off to a great start! For more on this topic, read the “Enrollment Outlook” story below.
We will also be examining our research and extension priorities as we build the master plan. Gone are the days when our college can do a little of everything. We are working to identify areas of selective excellence and focus our efforts on the most relevant issues to our region, and working with our neighbors at Rutgers, Maryland, Delaware State University, and Penn State to build synergy and avoid redundancy. As an example, see the story on Extension’s response to Hurricane Sandy and learn how people turned to us for information on preparation and mitigation of damage from this disastrous event.
I hope you’ll enjoy the stories in this issue of Food for Thought and remain engaged with us as we plan for the future. I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you to put a few dates on your calendar. Delaware Ag Week is this week (Jan. 14-18), culminating in a Friends of Ag Breakfast highlighting the President of the National Chicken Council. Our college’s annual Ag Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, and UD’s Alumni Weekend will be May 31-June 2. All of these events will be firsts for me, and I look forward to meeting you at one or more of them.
~Mark Rieger, Dean
You can view the actual email message by clicking here, or select from the content below.
Q&A with Denise Lasher, daughter of Dr. Hiram Lasher
The College of Agriculture & Natural Resources recently spoke with Denise Lasher (AG ‘77), daughter of Dr. Hiram Lasher—a generous benefactor to the University of Delaware and a pioneer in avian vaccine development, who passed away in October 2012 at the age of 92. The family of Dr. Lasher established the “Hiram Lasher Fellowship Award,” benefiting graduate students pursuing studies in poultry health at UD. View the full interview with Denise here.
New Director of Development
CANR is pleased to welcome Daniel Sarkissian as our new Director of Development. Dan has been with the University for nearly 3 years and has done impressive work during his time with the College of Engineering as Associate Director of Development, showing great initiative in securing major gifts from individuals for the ISE Lab and scholarships. Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (302) 831-4595.
Thurman Adams Jr. Agricultural Research Farm
This past spring, the UD Board of Trustees announced the renaming of CANR’s Agricultural Research Farm in Georgetown, DE for the late Senator Thurman Adams, in honor of his tireless efforts to secure funding and support for its facilities and programs.
View a video about Senator Adams and his contributions to UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources on the CANR YouTube channel or visit view the online photo album from the official dedication and sign unveiling in October 2012.
Alumni of Distinction
Seven CANR graduates were honored for their professional achievements at our annual Distinguished Alumni ceremony on Friday, Oct. 19. Bruce Cobb (AG ’84), Carol Long (AG ’90), Daral Jackwood (AG ’78), and Mark Jackwood (AG ’78, MS ’82) were honored with Distinguished Alumni awards. Jennifer McEntire (AG ’99) and Jennifer Walls (AG ’01) were named Distinguished Young Alumni. In addition, the George M. Worrilow Award was presented to Ronald Ritter (AG ’75).
Nationwide, agriculture and related industries produce about 54,000 new jobs annually; however, there are only about 29,000 graduates from colleges like ours to fill those positions. That’s almost a 2:1 ratio of jobs to graduates–well paying jobs, as starting salaries for our graduates are above the median starting salary for college graduates. This presents an opportunity for UD, where we can grow our enrollment and step up degree production to both help place students into jobs immediately upon graduation, and help the industries whose missions we support.
Dr. Meyers Honored
Blake Meyers, chair of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and the Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Designation as a fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Meyers received the award in large part because of his contributions to bioinformatics and plant functional genomics of model and crop plants, especially in the area of small RNA biology.
Extension’s Web Presence and Hurricane Sandy
On October 5, Extension launched its new web presence. In the first six weeks of the site’s existence, 32,516 people visited the site, resulting in 66,745 page views. 82.75% of these hits were from new visitors. The site’s news features and subsequent posting to social media connected constituents with resources during Hurricane Sandy about livestock preparations, food safety during and after power outages, salt water inundation in fields, landscape cleanup, and talking to children about natural disasters.
The newest issue of the UD Messenger is now available online; print copies will be mailed to alumni, parents and friends in early January. In addition, UD’s annual report is also available online and will be mailed along with the Messenger. Specifically, we’d like to draw your attention to the following articles in the UD Messenger that highlight CANR:
- On the green briefs: Roof is green in more ways than one
- Honors and Achievements: Jack Gelb
- Scientists look outside the box on crocs
- Show designed to be bloomin’ brilliant
Be sure to read through the entire online or print version to learn more about University initiatives, like the STAR Campus and ISE Lab that will also impact CANR.
The latest issue of the University of Delaware’s Research Magazine highlights UD’s work in the area of sea level rise, along with spotlighting a variety of other research accomplishments from across campus. We would especially like to draw your attention to the following articles from the magazine that highlight work from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources: