From the Dean — October 2015

Alan Grant, dean

Alan Grant, dean

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you learned at the recent Deans’ Forum, this is an exciting time for the college — student enrollment is growing, new faculty members continue to be recruited at on- and off-campus sites, sponsored awards are at all-time highs, and various initiatives are underway to increase the impacts of programs. A recording of the forum can be found online.

Among the many new initiatives underway is the formation of the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, which will include the people and programs of the departments of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Horticulture, and Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science. Many of you are assisting with this initiative and are members of working groups tasked with providing the planning committee with recommendations on numerous items to ensure a successful transition. Thank you for all of your work on this process.

The vision for the new school is to bring people together from many of the plant and environmental sciences disciplines to fuel innovation and productivity.

The increased collaborative activity will serve our external stakeholders better, and it will also give faculty members opportunities to revise and develop new curricula that will attract more students who will be prepared for careers that encompass these disciplines. Our new provost, Thanassis Rikakis, has championed a goal of becoming more transdisciplinary in our work, which aligns well  with the goals of the new school.

The School of Plant and Environmental Sciences is also a target for new investments. Recruitment of new faculty and construction of new facilities (e.g., the next building in the Human and Agricultural Biosciences Precinct) will ensure that Virginia Tech is a global leader in plant and environmental sciences. You can provide input into this initiative through members of the working groups and planning committee, or by submitting comments online.

A new university initiative, Envisioning Virginia Tech – Beyond Boundaries, was recently kicked off with a presentation by former University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman. Beyond Boundaries is presidential initiative challenging the Virginia Tech community to look decades into the future and rethink the university of tomorrow. As one of the co-chairs of the steering committee, I invite everyone to visit the website and participate in this initiative.

The orientation program for new faculty members in CALS was recently held at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference center. Many thanks to CALSFA and Susan Sumner’s office for planning and organizing this event and to the many individuals who were part of the program. Please take a moment to read a bit more about them and join me in welcoming them to Virginia Tech.

In January, we will welcome the new head of the Department of Entomology, Tim Kring, who is currently a professor of entomology at the University of Arkansas. Thanks to Scott Salom for serving as the interim department head until Tim arrives.

I recently had the pleasure of attending this year’s reception for the annual Faculty and Staff Awards and was delighted to see so many from CALS receiving honors. Frenda Wall Haynie, Ruth H. Lytton, Martha A. Walker, and Jennifer Bowen were recognized for their contributions. Congratulations to each of them.

Thanks to everyone for helping to make this college great.


Alan Grant

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