From the Dean – July 1

Dear Colleagues,

Alan Grant

Alan Grant, dean

As you know, planning for relocation of the dairy unit from its current location on Southgate Drive to a new site has been underway to achieve a long-term sustainable land-use scenario for agricultural activities in light of the expansion of Corporate Research Center (and Tech Center Drive), expansion of the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport, and relocation of the Route 460/ Southgate Drive intersection. In the Spring of 2011, the planning team made a recommendation for specific facilities and infrastructure to support the dairy program. The relocation plan calls for construction of a facility at Kentland Farm that would support a 230-cow dairy. The plan also calls for a metabolism unit at Kentland, and teaching facilities at Plantation Road and at the Moore Farm on Prices Fork Road. The entire project is a one-for-one replacement of the current facilities with upgrades to meet future programmatic and operational needs.

The current total project cost estimate from University Design and Construction is about $21 million. We understand the new Route 460 intersection may begin construction in 2013 and that the new roadways for the intersection may be installed to work around the existing dairy center. We also understand the timing of the airport runway extension work may be arranged with the FAA to start after a dairy center solution is complete. Thus, based on current thoughts on the project, the university intends to find a scheduling and funding solution which would allow the dairy center operations to continue until a permanent solution is available. Additional information about the relocation planning and the relocation report can be found at the dairy program relocation portal.

The Strategic Planning Committee has been meeting regularly to prepare a draft outline for a college strategic plan. This group includes representatives from the faculty and staff, department heads, and the ARECs. The next scheduled meeting will be held in mid-July. When the committee completes its draft, it will be distributed for input from appropriate internal and external stakeholders.

The ultimate goal of this process is the development of a plan that:

  1. Serves as a guide for the college and its investments in the missions of teaching, research, and Extension.
  2. Informs internal and external stakeholders of our key goals and strategies.
  3. Is aligned with the strategic plans and initiatives of our institution and partners.

As this process continues to develop, there will be multiple opportunities for input from our internal and external stakeholders to ensure that the concerns and priorities of our partners are well-represented in the final plan.

Dr. Tom Thompson is now on board as the new head of the Department Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences. Before his arrival, Dr. Thompson served as head of plant and soil sciences at Texas Tech University. He received his master’s degree from Texas A&M University and his Ph.D. from Iowa State University. I am delighted that he has arrived, as he will bring a wealth of experience to Virginia Tech.

We are very pleased that Dr. Mary Leigh Wolfe has accepted our offer to become head of the Department of Biological Systems Engineering in May. She had served as interim head since December 2009. My thanks to those who participated in the search and interview process, especially the search committee: Loke Kok (chair), Brian Benham, Theo Dillaha, John Ignosh, Jonathan Leder, Ryan Senger, Barbara Taylor, John Walz, Christan Whysong, Theresa Wynn, and Mike Zhang.

The search for the head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics is now under way. The search committee is being chaired by Mike Akers, head of the Department of Dairy Science. Other members of the committee are Greg Amacher, George Davis, George Norton, Kurt Stephenson, and Wen You.

I hope you have a safe and relaxing Independence Day.

Alan Grant
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

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