From the Dean – February 2014

Dear Colleagues,

Alan Grant, dean

Alan Grant, dean

We recently had the opportunity to meet and mingle with stakeholders and friends, sample some of Virginia’s finest foods, and dine with members of the General Assembly at the annual Agribusiness Council Legislative Banquet on Jan. 10 in Richmond, Va. This event is an exclusive opportunity to network with nearly 1,000 elected officials and fellow industry members during an evening highlighting agribusiness. Governor Bob McDonnell and Governor-Elect Terry McAuliffe also attended the event.

The 2014 legislative session is now underway and we’ve been relaying the need for several important funding initiatives, including a $1,149,966 General Funds request to fund operations and maintenance of the newly completed biosciences building (HABB1) and a $7.6 million capital request to aid in the relocation of the dairy science complex. The first phase of the dairy relocation is well underway at Kentland Farm. Dairy facilities will need to relocate when VDOT begins construction of the new Southgate Drive/Route 460 interchange.

We are also sharing the successes and groundbreaking work being done on campus and at our Agricultural Research and Extension Centers, as well as developments with Virginia Cooperative Extension with agent staffing, which now has more than 220 agents. As the session progresses, we are optimistic that the state will work hard to do all it can do to help the university.

I am pleased to announce that Neal Vines has accepted our offer to become the Director of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resources IT (AHNRIT). I am delighted that he has accepted our offer to serve in this role. His appointment is effective March 1, 2014. Neal replaces Craig Woods, who recently retired.

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the search and interview process, especially the search committee. Many thanks to Steve Blank (chair of the search committee) and the members of his committee (Stephanie Collins, Mary Dunker, Jody Jellison, Lonnie Johnson, Patrick Robinson, and Scott Shetrone). Everyone’s participation has been an important part of the search and interview process.

Congratulations to Isis Kenevsky-Mullarky, associate professor of diary science, on being awarded the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest award bestowed by the U.S. government upon outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. She is one of 102 recipients of the award and one of three funded by the Department of Agriculture.

Please welcome Matthew Hulver in his new role as head of the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise.  Matt has been a member of the HNFE faculty since 2006.  We look forward to his leadership in food systems and health and building on his strengths to expand the departmental research into an internationally recognized health program.

We are happy to see the students return to classes after the long winter break! Best wishes for what I hope will be a successful and productive semester for all of you.


Alan Grant

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