The Blog has been delayed a few weeks by the flurry of activity that marks the end of the spring semester. It is difficult to cover all of the college activities in 1500 words as this is typically the busiest time of the year for us, but here are some highlights from April, May and June in UD’s best college, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Enrollment update. Our “20 by 20” goal (20% increase in enrollment by Fall 2020) is getting closer to being achieved! We have received a record number of deposits—225—for students who wish to enter in Fall ’18. This is slightly ahead of where we were at this time last year (213), which was the best year in recent times. We may have set a new record for Honors students as well – 35 of the 225 students who will enroll are in the program (compared to 27 last year). Our numbers are reflective of an overall increase in the quality and quantity of students entering UD. CANR yields students at a slightly higher rate than the campus average, thanks to the good work of our faculty, staff and Ag Ambassadors who take extra time with each applicant. I can’t say enough about Chris Lucier, VP for Enrollment Management, who has been doing a great job of increasing enrollment in a challenging environment. There are actually 2.4 million fewer college students in the United States today than in 2011; one of the steepest declines in enrollment in history. Also, graduating class sizes in northeastern high schools continues to decline (most of our students come from this region). Despite these challenges, UD has grown enrollment and student quality each of the last three years, so thank Chris Lucier and his team when you get the opportunity!
Graduation 2018. Graduation weekend was Memorial Day weekend this year, and therefore quite eventful. UD sent another ~5000 Blue Hens into the world to make their mark. We recognized over 225 in CANR at our convocation ceremony on May 25th. We are so proud of Laura Donahue, a graduate of the pre-vet program, who was recognized as the most outstanding woman in UD’s 2018 graduating class! She received the Emalea Pusey Warner Award and was part of the platform party on graduation day (blond hair, pictured at right). Laura will be attending vet school at Cornell in the fall.
The weekend following graduation is traditionally Alumni Weekend, and this year UD welcomed back about 5000 alumni for food, fun, tours, live music and other events. We had a great turnout for our CANR reception on Friday evening, June 1st and played a bit of “college of ag trivia” with our alumni and friends. Thanks to all of you that attended our event!
Ag Day record attendance. Ag Day was an overwhelming success this year! Unlike much of the spring, the weather was absolutely perfect on April 28th – literally 72 degrees and sunny. Over 2500 visited the UD Botanical Gardens Plant Sale. 1300 participated in behavioral economics research. An estimated 4000 customers were served ice cream. While it is impossible to know for sure, we believe that 6000-8000 people visited our campus on Ag Day and learned something about plants, animals, environmental conservation, and all-things agricultural. Special thanks to the student committee Chaired by Andrew Mason, including Nicole Moyer, Jamie Taraila, Alexis Omar, Julie Lesznar, Sara Dietz, Madeline Torres, Amanda Obosnecko, Julia Damiano, Nat Ziemecki And Justin Roure. Special thanks to Grace Wisser who coordinated the event.
Progress on Worrilow. We have completed the design and planning phase of the Worrilow Hall project and the architects have handed over design documents to the construction company, Skanska. We have raised a few hundred thousand dollars in the last few weeks toward the $10 million philanthropy goal for the project. I am especially grateful for key contributions from Charles and Marie Burton of I.G. Burton and Company, Gary Curl (’74 BS, ’76 MS), Ted Carski (‘86PhD) and Janet Ruhl (‘92PhD). For those of you that remember Dale Bray, an entomology professor and outstanding teacher, please know that we are raising funds toward a classroom naming opportunity and we’d love to have you aboard. Dr. Bray was known for teaching large classes and learning each student’s name by the end of the first week of class. He inspired many students who went on to great careers. I am grateful to Gary Curl and others who have rallied the cause of naming a classroom for such a great faculty member.
As Worrilow moves forward, our focus will turn to swing space planning. We made an important step in June to secure space in the Harker ISE building, Delaware Biotechnology Institute, Penny Hall, and Allen Lab. This will take care of about a half dozen of our faculty and their research groups. The remainder of the faculty, staff and students will be moved into a modular building being constructed on the STAR Campus. It is sited near the future Newark Train Station, just a quarter mile from Worrilow. I am so grateful for the support of Alan Brangman, Executive VP, and Peter Krawchyk, the Director of UD Facilities for their support and long-term vision for providing adequate swing space as the UD campus undergoes significant construction and remodeling over the next decade.
Retirements, searches and personnel changes
- We have been busy making hires and conducting searches:
- Aditya Dutta and Yihang Li will join the Department of Animal and Food Sciences is the fall, taking the positions in immunology and physiology that we had been searching for over the past several months. Aditya comes to us from Columbia University in New York, and Yihang will be moving here from North Carolina. Both of them have done extremely well throughout their grad school and post doc research, and we know that they will bring excitement and new ideas to the classroom. Thanks to Mark Parcells and Ryan Arsenault for leading the search effort.
- Applied Plant Pathology: this search is concluded and an offer has been made. The lucky individual will join the Crops Team at the Carvel Center in Georgetown on September 1st. I thank Nicole Donofrio, chair of the search committee, and all of those involved in the interviews of four great candidates.
- We have been approved for four searches to take place in the upcoming academic year:
- Landscape Architecture. We will add a key faculty member to the growing Landscape Architecture program by Fall of 2019. This will be the third faculty member with a terminal degree in Landscape Architecture, broadening our capabilities to support this new major.
- Animal and Food Science Chairperson. We have begun a national search for the next Chairperson of ANFS, who will start in the summer of 2019. I thank Limin Kung, the current Chair, for his efforts during the last few years.
- Medical Entomologist. Continuing on our quest to grow the One Health initiative at UD, we’re searching for a medical entomologist to join the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology. This person will study diseases of animals and humans that are vectored by insects, such as Lyme’s disease.
- Wildlife Disease Ecologist. Paired with the medical entomologist we’ll also hire a wildlife disease ecologist who will work together on animal and human diseases that are present in wildlife populations and transmitted to humans or domestic animals. This is another great step forward for the One Health
- Retirements and departures this June:
- Marlene Emara. Dr. Emara completed 24 years as a faculty member in Animal and Food Sciences, teaching courses in animal behavior and animal sciences. She was a key faculty member in the nationally renowned pre-veterinary medicine program.
- Dave Frey. Dr. Frey worked for over 40 years in Plant and Soil Sciences, and spent several years as Associate Department Chair in addition to his role on the faculty. Notably, Dave spearheaded Ag Day, which has turned into the college’s signature event and a Newark tradition.
- Janine Sherrier. Dr. Sherrier spent almost 20 years in Plant and Soil Sciences, and is leaving to take a job at the University of Georgia as Department Chair of Crop and Soil Sciences. She also served as interim Associate Dean and Department Chair during her time as a Blue Hen. We wish her the best of luck in the “Classic City” – Athens, Georgia!
- Robert Dyer. Dr. Dyer spent 17 years on the faculty in Animal and Food Sciences doing research on dairy cows and teaching in the pre-vet program. Our alumni who have gone on to veterinary medicine often recall the outstanding preparation that he provided in animal anatomy and vet medicine.
- Steve Hastings. Dr. Hastings spent over 40 years on the faculty in Applied Economics and Statistics, including several years as Associate Department Chair. Steve poured his heart and soul into teaching and advising of agribusiness students, and influenced curriculum development across the university in his many roles as a committee chair.
We are saddened by the passing of Ken Lomax, a long-time faculty member and former Chair in the Department of Bioresources Engineering who retired nine years ago. He earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from Lafayette College, his M.S. degree in Entomology and Applied Ecology from the University of Delaware, and his PhD in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Maryland. In 1979, he moved to the University of Delaware to pursue his passion, which was undergraduate teaching. His research work focused on environmental engineering improvements to support the mushroom industry.
The Blog will return in August with the new students!