I hope that you had time to catch up or perhaps even get some rest and relaxation in during Spring Break. The Blog took an extended break too, skipping the February edition (not that anyone noticed!), but is now ready to get back to work. This edition highlights some of the changes we will see in 2014 as we implement the CANR Master Plan. First a little levity:

Q: How many faculty members does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Change, who said anything about change?

I was reminded of this old joke while reading some excerpts from Larry Nielson’s book, Provost: Experiences, reflections and advice from a former ‘number two’ on campus. Larry is one of the funniest academics that I’ve ever met. The book is worth a read. He quips about the “glacial” pace of change that exists at many universities, and, on a more somber note, how this reluctance to change keeps us from reaching our goals in higher education. So, I’d like us to consider stepping up our game in 2014 and making some needed changes. Don’t worry, we won’t make the jump to light speed, but we will get out of second gear and get closer to cruising as the year unfolds.

    1. College Master Plan Implementation. Last December, I gave you a homework assignment – tothink about Action Plans that derive from the Master Plan – each with concrete, measurable action items against which we can measure progress toward our stated goals. This involves answering the “how” and “when” questions that evolved from the “what” and “why” ideas that went into the Master Plan. During annual evaluations last month, I began to collect Action Plans from each unit leader, to be implemented starting no later than FY15 (some have started already). We’re using a format taken from another book that I recommend: The 4 Disciplines of Execution, by McChesney, Covey and Huling (Free Press, 2012). The first discipline is focus; they cite a number of examples of strategic change failing in organizations that try to do too many things at once. Their advice is to focus on ONE “wildly important goal,” or WIG – something that will move you forward more than anything else and throw everything you’ve got toward its execution. So, if you don’t know the details of your unit’s WIG, ask your unit leader to articulate it for you. Some of these need additional work, and some units have not yet finished, but here’s what we’ve got so far (in no particular order):
      • ENWC – Improve professional development for graduate students
      • APEC – Enhance faculty mentoring
      • Communications – Increase visibility of CANR via a college-wide communications committee designed to help uncover national/regional story ideas
      • PLSC – Build a new undergraduate major in genetics and genomics and grow enrollment
      • Grants Administration – Build a standardized policy and procedures manual for grants and contracts college-wide
      • Business Office – Improve the execution of HR issues in the College by developing guidelines and training
      • Undergraduate Student Services – Increase enrollment through better recruiting information
      • Facilities – Address deferred maintenance issues in the College
      • Deputy Dean – Develop the College’s “One Health” initiative with CHS
      • Carvel Center – Increase the contribution of the Carvel Center to teaching, student recruitment and engagement
      • Extension (two WIG’s!) – Implement the Planning and Reporting System, and build capacity in human health in Extension
      • Dean (two WIG’s) – Execute a strategy for Worrilow Hall renovations, and implement cost recovery college-wide

All WIGs will be in place by 1 July 2014 (some are underway now). Again, you should know not only your unit’s WIG, but the performance measures that will allow you to track progress toward its execution (called lags and leads). It will take effort from everyone to accomplish these goals, so please think about your role in moving the College forward.

  1. Changes to the CANR web site. I hope you have all taken the opportunity to view the new college web site: http://canr.udel.edu/. New CANR websiteWe’ve made a lot of changes to the look, feel, navigation, and, importantly, editing capabilities to give it a wow-factor and make it more intuitive and functional. Please remember that the site was designed with prospective students and their parents in mind, as we know the web is the #1 way that students find out about the College. I thank Nancy Gainer and her team for getting the new site up in time for Decision Days – undergraduate enrollment is absolutely critical to our future.
  2. The College Bylaws need change. The Bylaws were last revised in May 2006 and a lot has changed since that time. To me, the most striking aspect is that there is no mention of Cooperative Extension throughout the document, yet this is clearly a major mission area for the College. We will discuss the Bylaws in more detail at the Spring Semester Faculty Meeting, which is May 20th at 9:30 am in 132 TNS. Tom Sims has appointed an ad hoc committee to revise the Bylaws: Eric Benson, Carmine Balascio, Steve Hastings, Corey Whaley and Greg Shriver. Please direct your feedback to this group.
  3. Cost Recovery. Another item on the Spring Faculty Meeting agenda will be cost recovery. Beginning in FY15, we will be instituting usage fees for animals and cropland on our farms in order to recover some of the costs associated with their support. We simply can no longer make up the deficit between farm expenses and income from operating funds; the deficit is about $800,000 to $1M on the Newark Farm alone. As stated in the Master Plan, this will allow us to free operating funds for deferred maintenance and renovations needed to keep the College’s infrastructure intact. Another aspect of cost recovery is including a small amount of graduate tuition on grants. The College waives well over $3.5M per year in tuition, and even if we recovered only a fraction of that amount on grants, we would easily double or triple the amount of funds available for deferred maintenance and strategic initiatives. Some of you are doing this already – and thank you – but we need everyone to get involved to have an impact.
  4. Changes in faculty and staff. We have several ongoing searches and have welcomed a few new faces to the College in early 2014.
    • Business Officer – Following Katie Hutton’s retirement, Kawkab Rasheed has taken on the role of “CFO” for the College. Kawkab came from the Budget Office in Hullihen, so she has lots of insight and background on financial affairs at UD. She is off to a great start in her new role.
    • Extension. Cooperative Extension has seen a number of changes in 2014. Dan Severson is now on board as the Ag Agent in New Castle County. In Sussex County, Jill Jackson has filled the position of 4-H Coordinator vacated following Mary Argo’s retirement and passing. Rene Diaz has joined CANR to take on the Sussex County after school programs, and Lindsay Hughes has moved into the BOTVIN grant position. Finally, Karen Johnston has assumed a new role as grant manager for 4-H. Lots o’ change!
    • Urban Forestry – PLSC has completed interviews for their Urban Forestry professorship. I expect their recommendation any day now, so we should be able to announce the successful candidate soon.
    • Longwood Program Director – Also completed is a round of interviews to find the successor to Bob Lyons who directs the Longwood Graduate Program. The search committee is presently deliberating and should have a recommendation soon.
    • Statistics. APEC has conducted several interviews over the past few weeks in a three-position cluster hire effort to rebuild our capacity in statistics after a series of departures. More than 170 applicants were screened, of which 6 have been interviewed thus far; one interviewee has accepted an offer to join us. We are trying to find two additional candidates as this search winds down.
    • Landscape Design Instructor. The first of three candidates is being interviewed this week. We hope to have the position filled by the time fall classes begin.
    • Animal and Food Sciences Department Chair. A search committee, chaired by Jake Bowman, has just been convened to find the next chair of ANFS as Jack Gelb returns to the faculty this summer. Limin Kung will be interim chair of ANFS until the permanent candidate is seated. Both internal and external candidates will be considered.
  5. Adding faculty and staff awards. In FY15we’re bringing back the CANR Teaching Award and launching new college-wide awards for research, Extension, and staff. We have set aside funds from our annual giving account to fund awards for individuals who have had great impact on teaching, research, Extension, and support. You could be the next recipient! Awards in each category will be made in alternate years, staggered so that we have awards given each year. The awardees will join the platform party at commencement to be recognized, and will each receive a cash award of a few thousand dollars. Details on eligibility, selection criteria, etc. are forthcoming.
  6. Changes to the Townsend Commons. As you know, we received a Unidel grant last December to revitalize the Townsend Commons area and renovate two classrooms. Nancy Gainer is chairing a group of people who are envisioning a more vibrant, attractive, functional Commons (feel free to provide input to the group). They have held focus groups with students to determine what changes would be most beneficial in both the Commons and the classrooms. No matter what, next year’s incoming class will find themselves in much better teaching facilities.

The Blog will be back in early summer. In the meantime, I hope that all goes well as you wind down the semester, ramp up the field season (or perhaps both!), and make changes that keep you at your very best.

Thoughts From the Dean

Summer Salutations!

dean-riegerI 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.

Go Hens!

~Mark Rieger, Dean


Ice Cream Truck

ice-cream-truck-moo-mobileThanks 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!

Read more on UDaily.

Equine Science Gift

equineThis 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.

Read more on UDaily.

Veterinary Graduates

vet-graduatesIn 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.

Read more on UDaily.

Largest Crowd ever for Ag Day

ag-dayBeautiful 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.

Click here to read more about Ag Day 2013.

Doug Tallamy Garden Club of America honor

doug-tallamyDoug 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.

Read more on UDaily.

CANR at the Philadelphia Flower Show

flower-showCANR 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.

Click here to read more about Lemheney and click here to read more about the interdisciplinary class’ display.

Thoughts From the Dean

Happy New Year fellow Blue Hens!

Mark Rieger, Dean
Mark Rieger, Dean

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

Daniel Sarkissian
Daniel Sarkissian, CANR 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 djs@udel.edu 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

2012 CANR Distinguished Alumni
2012 CANR Distinguished Alumni

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).

Read more about the accomplishments of these alumni.

Enrollment Outlook

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.

Read the USDA report.

Dr. Meyers Honored

Dr. Blake Meyers AAAS Fellow
Dr. Blake Meyers, AAAS Fellow

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.

Read more on UDaily.

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.

Visit the new Extension website or view the hurricane related posts.

Thoughts From the Dean