September is a great month at UD as we welcome (back) about 23,000 students in any given year, after a very quiet, relaxing summer semester. This year, UD brought in a record new class of over 4,300 students from all 50 states and dozens of countries around the world. We started the admissions process with over 27,000 undergraduate applications, also a new record, suggesting that more prospective students are finding out about the great programs and people at UD. The University also hired about 80 new faculty, a bit more than usual, so there are a lot of new faces in town and Newark seems to be busier than ever. In the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, we too have grown, and are set for exciting developments as the academic year unfolds. Here’s a few highlights.
Fall ’17 enrollment. With official enrollment numbers just in, I am thrilled that the College’s total enrollment has topped 1,000 students for the first time since the 1970s. We have 814 undergraduates and 191 graduate students. I am grateful to all of the faculty, staff and students who helped with events, tours, individual inquiries and other recruitment activities that brought us to this milestone. Note that the graduate headcount does not include students mentored by our faculty but matriculated to programs outside of CANR (Biology and Economics are examples), so we’re actually serving more than 1,005 students. Our “20 by 20” plan calls for a 20% increase in enrollment by 2020, and with increases like this, we should reach our goal in three years.
At the graduate level, Shreeram Inamdar reports that the Water Science and Policy Program has enrolled 13 new students this fall. This program started a few years ago with just a few students and has now blossomed into a strong, interdisciplinary program involving faculty from CANR, Engineering, Earth, Ocean and Environment and Arts and Sciences. Congratulations Shree!
Fall Fest success! Speaking of new students, our Welcome Back Fall Fest on September 7th was a great success! I would say that at least 200 students came, along with dozens of faculty and staff. The weather was perfect—as was the food. We cooked our own farm-raised Angus beef burgers and complemented them with fresh organic vegetables from the Fresh to You organic produce operation. Several student clubs and organizations were on hand, letting new students know about all of the extracurricular opportunities available to CANR students. I thank the sisters of Sigma Alpha for hosting the event and doing much of the work involved. Grace Wisser and her group did an incredible job planning and coordinating the event.
Two days later, we were blessed with incredible fall weather for our Farm Fresh event where we hosted stakeholders, alumni, donors, elected officials, and members of our Board of Trustees, administration and advisory boards. Headlining the event was Governor Carney, who made great remarks about agriculture and natural resources in the First State and our college’s role as the knowledge engine for these sectors. President Assanis and Matt Kinservik also spoke eloquently about the value of the College to UD and how we promote student success through our hands-on, entrepreneurial academic programs and caring faculty and staff. Delaware’s newest Congresswoman, Lisa Blunt Rochester was there, along with several other state legislators and staffers. It was an all-Delaware extravaganza, featuring Angus beef prime rib, vegetables, UDairy ice cream and even floral arrangements coming from our Newark Farm and UD Botanical Gardens. I thank our partners in Delaware’s craft beverage industry for being there and pouring some excellent beer, wine and spirits: Iron Hill Brewery, Harvest Ridge Winery, and Painted Stave Distillery. I am grateful to Executive Chef Carl Zampini and his crew who created the menu and delivered a fantastic meal (and I think they enjoyed the challenge of working with our local ingredients!). Please let Grace Wisser know that she did an unbelievable job in creating and organizing Farm Fresh, which was described by many as the best event they’ve attended at UD.
Progress on Worrilow. We are moving forward with next phase of the design and planning for Worrilow Hall and we are ahead of schedule. The Executive Vice President and Director of Facilities have allowed us to begin working with architects with goals of developing detailed schematics ASAP, and breaking ground on a Worrilow renovation and upgrade in the summer of 2018. This moves the timeline forward by 6-12 months. We’ve raised another $400,000 in the last few weeks, leaving a gap of $2.6 million to close before reaching the $10 million fundraising target. I am confident that we can fulfill our fundraising commitment, but only with the involvement of many more people – more than the number of folks who helped us get this far. This project will enhance the college’s teaching, research and extension activities substantially and for decades to come. Special thanks to Sherman Townsend, many of our stakeholders and members of the UD Board of Trustees for creating a sense of urgency around this project and accelerating the timeline.
Retirements, searches and personnel changes
- Erik Ervin will be the next Chair of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, effective January 1, 2018. Erik is currently interim Chair of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. Since 2013, he has held a 50% appointment as Assistant Dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, thus he brings a wealth of knowledge on curriculum development, enrollment, and student success. Prior to joining Virginia Tech in 2001, he was the State Extension Turfgrass Specialist at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Dr. Ervin has run a successful research program in the area of turfgrass physiology and culture, publishing 97 refereed works and garnering over $5 million in extramural funding. He has taught six courses and advised more than 200 students at the graduate and undergraduate levels over his career. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy. Suffice it to say that Dr. Ervin brings vast experience in teaching, research and extension to the department, and importantly, a well-informed vision of the future of plant and soil sciences and a commitment to the land grant mission. I’d like to thank Jake Bowman and the membership of the search committee – Harsh Bais, Jessica Cooper, Cindy Rechsteiner, Mark VanGessel, Rodrigo Vargas, Anna Wik, and Scott Raubenstine – for conducting a successful national search.
- David Owens has accepted the Extension Specialist position at the Carvel Center in Georgetown. He will be managing the College’s statewide, integrated pest management program, starting in November. David is a Florida grad (Go Gators!) who spent a year as a postdoc with the USDA in south Florida prior to coming to UD.
- Gina Crist, Temporary Instructor, Cooperative Extension joint with the College of Health Sciences. Gina will be working on the Culture of Health program in Cooperative Extension, largely focused on improving health outcomes in the City of Wilmington. She is also teaching a course on nutrition in the College of Health Sciences.
- Tiffany Cofer, Production Assistant, UDairy Creamery, Wilmington. Tiffany is helping manage the new Creamery location in Wilmington, which is off to a great start after just 4 months.
- Todd Mittelmeier, Assistant Director of Development. Todd joined CANR in August and will be helping with fundraising and alumni relations.
- John Pesek retired on August 31, after 36 years of service at UD as a faculty member in statistics. John taught advanced statistics courses and contributed to many research efforts throughout the college that involved complex computational methods and statistics.
- Arba Henry, Instructor, Agriculture and Natural Resources also retired on August 31. Arba worked for us for 11 years, teaching agricultural education courses and managing both the BS and MS degree programs in that field. Arba also was a great mentor to Collegiate FFA students and did yeoman’s work for CANR at the Delaware State Fair.
- Brian Trader, Adjunct Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, finished his three-year appointment as interim Longwood Program Director on June 30, 2017. We appreciate his contributions to the program and our distinguished Longwood graduates.
- Searches: The president and provost approved six faculty hires in August, and we’re busy organizing committees and launching advertisements. The positions are:
- Assistant Professor of Statistics (tenure track, research and teaching)
- Assistant Professor of Statistics (non-tenure track, teaching)
- TWO Assistant Professors of Food and Agribusiness Marketing (dual hire, both tenure track, research and teaching)
- TWO Assistant Professors of Animal Science, One Health initiative, comparative anatomy and nutritional immunology (dual hire, both tenure track, research and teaching)
The hires are part of a strategic plan to enhance the One Health and Human Dimensions of agriculture and natural resources in the college, two areas of vital importance to our future.
As you can see, the academic year is off to a great start and there will be many new things to blog about in the months to come. Stay tuned………..the Blog will return in November.