The Blog has warmed up after being frozen stiff by Stella, a most unwelcome mid-March storm that ripped through Newark on the 14th and 15th. To make matters worse, February brought near-record warmth that pushed Forsythia, daffodils, Saucer Magnolias, and other early bloomers. It was really looking like an early spring, and I had not shoveled snow a single time since the Snowmageddon event of January 2016. But no, Stella had to remind us all that we had weeks to go before spring would arrive. I wanted to scream like Marlon Brando in that famous scene from A Streetcar Named Desire.
The good news was that the students got a snow day, and faculty and staff got a chance to catch up on mid-semester tasks. The snow blanketed campus for a few days and made for some beautiful pictures. As I write, Spring Equinox sunlight is melting the last remnants of Stella away, and the grounds crew is rounding up tree limbs that were brought down. Newark is ready to bloom again.
So, as you’re enjoying the harbingers of spring outside of your window, here are a few things that are happening in the College:
Worrilow Hall. My middle initial is W, but I rarely use my middle name (Weston). Given my persistence in rallying interest for upgrading Worrilow Hall, many would guess that the W stands for “Worrilow”. Well, all the effort has finally precipitated a decision point – we’re approved for a $30 million upgrade of Worrilow Hall! The College must raise $10 million toward the project, but with more than half of that amount in hand today, I am confident that we can reach our goal. Virtually every CANR student has a class in Worrilow Hall, and many students conduct research projects there alongside our talented faculty and staff. Faculty housed in Worrilow generate millions of dollars in grants annually, and the resulting research is cited hundreds of times. It is the heart of the CANR knowledge engine. A Worrilow upgrade gives us a chance to provide our students, faculty and staff a state-of-the-art learning lab, which in turn, will produce even more in terms of impactful science and career-ready graduates. We envision a problem-based learning lab, core facilities such as analytical chemistry and flow cytometry, and larger, more flexible research spaces. The design of the Harker Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Lab is our model – if you have not seen this building, make sure you stroll through it the next time you are on the main campus.
In fact, we have already started to create new spaces in Worrilow. By this time next year, we’ll have a 3000-square foot Food Pilot Plant and Creamery expansion in place. We can begin now because we’re upgrading a fairly autonomous space in the far corner of the building, so the construction won’t affect our research and teaching lab plans. We’ve raised over a million dollars for this space, and need to raise another $500,000 for the pasteurization equipment needed to handle the milk from our dairy herd. Eventually, we’ll make new products like cheese and yogurt to complement our existing line of ice cream products. We’ll even brew beer as part of our Fermentation Science course, and make wine from grapes grown on the Newark farm. The Pilot Plant is essentially a food and beverage “maker space”, where students can explore new products in a real-world setting, applying their classroom learning and becoming entrepreneurs. We hope to double the enrollment in our Food Science program with this facility.
Reaching our fundraising goal for Worrilow will require a new level of donor participation, so I hope that many of you will consider a gift toward the project. No gift is too small, and every gift brings us closer to our goal of providing the best facility possible for our students, faculty, staff and stakeholders. Please visit http://canr.udel.edu/giving/ to learn more.
UDairy Creamery comes to Wilmington on Wednesday, May 3!
Right after winter storm Stella, I saw people sitting outside of the Creamery eating ice cream on a sunny, but cool 47° day. There was still snow on the ground, but that didn’t deter their enthusiasm for our award-winning ice cream. Now those are the kind of customers that we’d like to see more often! And we’ll have another location for all our UDairy fans in downtown Wilmington soon. Opening on Market Street in early May, this location will be staffed by students in UD’s Associate in Arts program, which is also located in downtown Wilmington. The idea is to provide the same hands-on, entrepreneurial learning experience for the Wilmington-based students as we do for students in Newark. We will be closing a block of Market Street for a few hours in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 3rd, so please join us if you can. The event details will be posted on the Creamery website: http://canr.udel.edu/udairycreamery/
Enrollment projections for Fall ’17 up! Thanks to Chris Lucier, UD’s Vice President for Enrollment Management, and many others in his shop, the enrollment projections for the Class of ’21 are looking very good. At this point the admission process is completed, and now we’re working on yielding the best students in the group. In CANR, our admissions are at record levels. We’ve admitted 640 students this year compared to ~500 in previous years, so we can project a ~20% increase in the incoming class this fall. This single-year increase is larger than the last three years combined! We look forward to welcoming each and every one of them next fall.
Retirements, searches and personnel changes
Searches for new faculty and staff positions continue as the college has been experiencing a relatively large number of retirements. Here’s an update:
- Jennifer Clem has taken a position nearer to her home in Lewes, Delaware. While with us only briefly, she did an excellent job as sponsored programs coordinator, traveling between Newark and Georgetown locations to cover Extension.
- Mark Baker is retiring on April 1. He worked on the Newark Farm for many years, and we wish him well as he moves on to other pursuits.
- The dairy manager position, soon to be vacated by Richard Morris’ retirement, has attracted several good candidates who will be interviewed in the next few weeks.
- Wei Qian will join us as the newest Assistant Professor of Statistics this June. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. We look forward to having him complete our Stats team in the department of Applied Economics and Statistics.
- Renita Chakrabarti has joined the CANR business team as sponsored program coordinator. She comes to us from Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, and has already made improvements in our grants management operation.
- Melissa McDerby has joined CANR in the role of Extension 4-H support, a position vacated by Joyce Witte.
- I have made an offer to the top candidate in our search to fill a plant molecular biology position in Plant and Soil Sciences, to be located at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute. We should have this wrapped up in a few days, and look forward to welcoming the new person to CANR. I am grateful to Randy Wisser and others on this search committee.
- Two extension faculty positions are being filled in departments of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology and Plant and Soil Sciences. In each of the two closely related searches, we have had over 25 applicants. Once these folks are on board, we’ll complete a strong, interdisciplinary “crops team” in Sussex County, with expertise in agronomy, entomology, pathology, weed science, plant breeding, and horticultural crop management. Special thanks to Mark Isaacs, Carvel Center Director, and Michelle Rodgers, Extension Director, for leading this effort.
- We are conducting a nationwide search for the next Chair in our strongest research department, Plant and Soil Sciences. Bob Lyons has come out of retirement to lead the department in an interim role until we complete this search later this year. We thank Bob for stepping in and look forward to interviewing applicants for this important position in the coming weeks. Feel free to nominate worthy individuals – the position is advertised here.
- Alumnus and former Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee will be joining the College next fall as an Executive in Residence. In this role, Ed will help strengthen existing relationships with industry and agency, and build new partnerships. He will be in residence about once per month to interact with faculty, staff and students and bring in folks from outside of UD to do the same. I look forward to working with Ed as we broaden the reach and relevance of the College throughout the Delmarva region.
Special thanks to all of the faculty and staff that have served on search committees and done the behind-the-scenes work to bring the best candidates to the CANR family.
Michele Walfred wins Excellence in Service Award! I am pleased that Michele has won this award, as her enthusiasm and commitment to excellence in her role as Communications Specialist II are boundless. Michele works at the Carvel Center in Georgetown, but through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other digital media, her presence is felt throughout the state. She has been behind the scenes in so much of what we do as a college, I’m glad that she is being recognized with this distinguished award.
Like March, the blog is going out like a lamb to find spring. It returns in May as we prepare for commencement.