From the Dean – November 2011

Dear Colleagues,

Alan Grant

Alan Grant, dean

As the university continues its long-range planning and develops a new six-year strategic plan, the college will be working in tandem to develop a strategic plan that is aligned with the new university plan. A steering committee was formed last March and met over a period of several months to begin developing a process for and initial steps of a strategic plan. The committee was chaired by Jody Jellison and also included Erik Ervin, Beth Grabau, Lori Greiner, Joe Marcy, Kim Niewolny, Steve Rideout, Pete Schultz, Kurt Stephenson, and Mary Leigh Wolfe. I very much appreciate the time and energy that the steering committee members have devoted to this important activity.

We are now at a stage where we need to build on their ideas and develop specific strategies, action items, and metrics for various goals. Several working groups will be formed to assist with this stage of the process. I have asked department heads, AREC directors, and college staff association for nominees to serve on working groups. I am currently finalizing appointments and plan to meet with the working groups in the near future.

Initially, three working groups will be formed to draft plans for research, teaching/learning, and Extension. These initial plans will be developed after holding a number of listening sessions where internal and external stakeholders of the college will have opportunities for input. A dedicated website will also be developed that allows input from stakeholders.

After plans have been drafted, a writing team will work with the college to help compile and finalize an overall plan. Our goal is to have a final plan developed by May 2012. Regular updates will be provided via the dedicated website. I thank everyone in advance for your assistance.

Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics Search
The search for the head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics has moved into the last phase, having completed interviews with three final candidates. The search committee is chaired by Mike Akers, head of dairy science. Other members of the committee are Greg Amacher, George Davis, George Norton, Kurt Stephenson, and Wen You. This week, the search committee will meet with me to discuss their findings and present their candidate evaluations. I’ve been very pleased with the professional nature of the procedure and look forward to a final announcement in the near future about a successful conclusion to this process.

Open House
The university held its first campus-wide Open House on Nov. 12. Donors, alumni, prospective students, and the general public had a chance to visit and learn more about the programs and people who make up the Virginia Tech community. Our college was a major participant, with four venues to visit: the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Teaching Arena, the Hahn Horticulture Garden, Latham Hall, and Lane Stadium/Worsham Field.

  • At the arena, visitors were able to learn more about the equine science programs; poultry, dairy, and animal behavior research; the 4-H robotics program; the Master Beekeeping Program; and the Community Viability Program.
  • Faculty and students at the Peggy Lee Hahn Garden Pavilion highlighted the Extension Food Safety and Master Food Volunteer programs, work by the Food Product Development Team, and the minor in civic agriculture and food systems. Visitors also were treated to garden tours.
  • Latham Hall opened labs showcasing work in biofuels, diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks, and interdisciplinary research in areas such as plant genomics and metabolic engineering. The Virginia Master Well Owners Network was also featured.
  • At Lane Stadium, crop and soil environmental sciences faculty members provided information about the unique modular turfgrass system Virginia Tech uses on Worsham field.

The event was a great opportunity to highlight our faculty, staff, and students and their important contributions to our college and to Virginia Cooperative Extension. I appreciate the time and effort that went into planning and staffing the events of the day and thank all involved for making this a special and successful event.



Alan Grant

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