Input about new ag dean at UC Davis gathered at Kearney
This imperative was among the thoughts shared at a town hall meeting April 22 at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center convened by CDFA secretary Karen Ross and farmer John Harris. Ross and Harris, members of the recruitment advisory committee, are traveling the state to collect diverse input on the challenges and opportunities the next dean will face, as well as the characteristics most important for the University to consider in recruiting and screening candidates.
Ross noted that the candidate must have appropriate academic credentials, including a doctorate degree and at least five years academic experience, plus at least five years of administrative experience. And, she continued, "for me, personally, an understanding of the land grant mission is a must."
The audience of prominent San Joaquin Valley farmers, commodity leaders and academic administrators offered their suggestions for important candidate characteristics, including:
- Farmer friendly
- Able to convene groups traditionally at odds with one another
- Collaborative. "We need someone who values other partners," said Charles Boyer, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State.
- An advocate for agriculture. "UC Davis carries tremendous weight in Washington D.C., and at the state level," said a participant.
- In tune with younger Californians. "Students going to college today are different; they're seeking education that is non traditional, less formal," said Cameron Boswell, J.G. Boswell Co.
The group also suggested how the new dean can lead CAES to best address the needs of the California agricultural community, such as:
- Maintain a strong extension program. "Information should go to make California agriculture competitive first," said Barry Bedwell, President of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League.
- Recruit more students to agricultural careers. "Extension needs to be the main motivator," said farmer Carol Chandler.
- Conduct applied science.
- Search for high technology solutions. "All the easy problems have been solved," said a participant.
Ending the meeting on a high note, Ross asked participants to share the top one or two current opportunities they see for agriculture in California:
- Innovative new food products
- National security
- New technology
- Innovations to transcend the world marketplace
- Food security in light of climate change
Jeff Dahlberg, director of the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, left, with Karen Ross, CDFA secretary.