From the Dean — July/August 2015

Alan Grant, dean

Alan Grant, dean

Dear Colleagues,

More than 500 4-H teens, volunteer leaders, and Extension agents were on campus June 15-18 for the 95th annual State 4-H Congress. The following week, Virginia Tech hosted over 2,000 members and guests from across the state at the 89th State FFA Convention.

On June 28, 97 of the commonwealth’s best and brightest high school students came to campus for the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s School for Agriculture program that ran through July 25. The program allows students to interact with and learn from faculty and staff. It is always a pleasure seeing these young people enjoying our campus and learning more about agriculture and the life sciences during the summer.

About 250 volunteers attended the 28th Annual Master Gardener College June 24-28. The educational program featured tree-steward training and session topics such as food preservation and fermentation, arboriculture, home vegetable production, emerging technologies such as using drones for risk tree assessment, and online resources for managing urban trees.

The third Virginia Tech Summer Academy got into full swing on July 5 with students living in Barringer and Vawter Halls for the six-week program, which ends on August 15. The programs are designed to ease transition from high school or another college by allowing students to take classes while becoming familiar with college life.

The college is fortunate to have talented people leading and delivering these great programs for our many stakeholders. Many thanks to everyone involved in planning, coordinating, and delivering these significant programs.

Rounding out July, more than 280 people attended our 20th annual faculty and staff awards ceremony and picnic on July 24. A highlight of the picnic is the awards program. Each year the college chooses an Employee of the Year from the 12 Employee of the Month award recipients. This year, Jonathan Dickerson, a senior research specialist at the Turfgrass Research Center was named the 2015 Employee of the Year.

This year’s Andy Swiger Land-Grant Award was presented to Renee Boyer, associate professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology. Dr. Boyer’s research focuses on pre- and post-harvest interventions to enhance the safety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. She leads the state’s Extension Food Safety Team, which has a charge to evaluate the educational programming needs of Virginia’s citizens and provide food safety curriculum.

Percival Zhang professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering received the Award of Excellence in Applied Research for his outstanding work in biofuels and biochemical production and disruptive biomanufacturing for food.

Zach Adelman, associate professor in the Department of Entomology received the college’s Award of Excellence for Basic Research for his work in molecular and vector biology focusing on mosquito disease transmission.

The CALS Diversity Incentive Fund Award was presented to Eric Kaufman, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education for his project entitled “Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Populations in Agriculture.” His project will catalyze efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented populations in the college, and will provide opportunities for students and faculty to receive expert guidance on appropriate actions for advancing the college’s long term commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In addition to congratulating the award recipients for their outstanding achievements, please join me in thanking everyone who worked so hard in making the picnic celebration such an enjoyable event for the college.

Fall semester begins on Aug. 24 and this year CALS will see approximately 55 new Agricultural Technology students, 130 new transfer students, and 590 first-year students. As we begin a new academic year, there will be many new events to welcome our new students to campus.


Alan Grant

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