From the Dean — August 2012

Alan Grant

Alan Grant, dean

Dear Colleagues,

At our annual faculty and staff celebration on July 17, we enjoyed a sunny outdoor picnic on the Ag Quad, followed by a program during which we recognized some of those faculty and staff who contributed outstanding work over the previous year.

Every year, the Andy Swiger Land-Grant Award recognizes a faculty member whose accomplishments in teaching, research, or Extension greatly benefit the agriculture industry and improve the quality of life for Virginia’s citizens. The Andy Swiger Land-Grant Award Endowment was established in honor of Dean Emeritus Andy Swiger, who served the college for more than 23 years and was dean from 1992 to 2003.

The 2012 Swiger Land-Grant Award went to Gordon Groover.

Gordon is an Extension economist and associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. His work focuses on the development of farm-level decision aids, farm planning, computer application to agriculture, and livestock management systems.

Two scientists were recognized with the college’s Awards of Excellence in Research for significant accomplishments in their fields:

  • Jeffrey Derr, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, received the Award of Excellence in Applied Research. He is a member of the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Jeffrey’s work focuses on developing weed management strategies for horticultural crops. His program promotes the proper use of chemicals to promote environmental stewardship, including minimizing impacts on the Chesapeake Bay.
  • The work of Associate Professor Igor Sharakhov in the Department of Entomology centers on genomics, vector biology, and medical entomology, with a specific focus on the comparative genomics and molecular genetics of malaria mosquitoes. Igor received the Award of Excellence in Basic Research.

University award winners who were recognized included:

  • Dini Miller, associate professor of entomology, received the university’s 2012 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension. Dini is the urban pest management specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension.
  • Scott Jessee, Russell County agriculture and natural resources agent for Virginia Cooperative Extension, was the recipient for the second 2012 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension.
  • Carl Zipper, associate professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist for crop and soil environmental sciences, received Virginia Tech’s 2012 Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence.

Each year, a CALS Employee of the Year is selected from among the twelve recipients of the previous Employees of the Month.

Dianne Bourne, a lab and research specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology, was recognized as the 2012 Employee of the Year. Dianne has worked at Virginia Tech for more than 40 years. In her current role, assists in the preparation of grant proposals and conducts and supervises laboratory research activities associated with funded grants.

I hope you join me in congratulating these award winners, as well as the other award recipients who were recognized for their outstanding achievements. We are grateful for everyone’s incredible work over the past year.

As you may have noticed, construction for the LEED-certified Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 at the corner of Washington Street and Duck Pond Drive is moving along quickly. The $53.7 million building is being constructed with state funds and will be completed in late 2013. A new website was recently launched to follow the project. It includes a live webcam; videos of students from the departments of Food Science and Technology and Biological Systems Engineering, which will have lab space in the building; up-to-the minute Tweets from the project crew; building animations that give audiences the ability to digitally maneuver through various areas of the building; and monthly project activity reports. Take a few moments to visit the website to see the tremendous progress that has been made since the building’s construction began last December.

The college strategic planning process has continued during the summer months. The three working groups, chaired by Joyce Latimer, Jay Williams, and George Davis, prepared drafts addressing teaching and learning, research, and Extension goals and strategies after seeking input from various stakeholders. You may recall the listening sessions that were held in the winter and spring to let people share their thoughts. People could also provide feedback online. We appreciate the extensive work conducted by the faculty and staff who served as members of these working groups as well as the input that many of you provided the working groups. The associate deans and I, along with Jody Jellison (chair of our strategic planning steering committee), have used these drafts to continue developing a more comprehensive draft college strategic plan. The department heads and AREC directors will be meeting with us this month to provide additional input. We expect to be ready to share a draft document in early September which will provide the broader community opportunities to provide additional input at that time.


Alan Grant, dean

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