From:††††††††† Johnny Wynne, Interim Dean
Subject:††††††††† Update on College
2003 brought a great deal of change for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the beginning of this new year seems an appropriate time to reflect on those changes and to consider the opportunities and challenges for 2004.
Amid several departures, a new administrative team has come together, to provide leadership during these difficult times. Dr. James L. Oblinger, our dean; Dr. Katie Perry, associate dean for administration; and Ms. Vicki Walton, administrative assistant, all assumed critical university roles in the provost's office. I assumed the role of dean on an interim basis during May; Ms. Helen Crane has been named administrative assistant to the dean, and Dr. Sylvia Blankenship, from the Department of Horticultural Science, is now interim associate dean for administration.
Dr. Steven Leath has assumed my former position as interim associate dean of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, and Dr. Winston Hagler, from the Department of Poultry Science, has been named interim assistant director. Dr. Greg Gibson, of the Department of Genetics, is now half-time assistant director for the basic sciences.† Dr. Steve Leath, Dr. Jon Ort, and Dr. Ken Esbenshade have worked well as a team during the last 6 months.
Meanwhile, David Rouzer, who served as our director of commodity relations, resigned to join Sen. Elizabeth Dole's staff in Washington, D.C. His departure left a vacancy filled part-time by Dr. Thomas J. Monaco, retired head of the Department of Horticultural Science.
While Mr. Harvey Lineberry left his post as assistant dean for personnel for a position at East Carolina University, he returned to the college recently to his former position. Sheri Plenert provided leadership during Harvey's hiatus, and we are thankful for the excellent job she did.
Finally, two permanent department heads were named: in 2003 Dr. Julia Kornegay, previously director at Miami's Fairchild Tropical Garden, assumed the helm in Horticultural Science following Dr. Monaco's retirement, and Dr. Roger McCraw, who guided the Department of Animal Science as interim head since 2001, was named to the permanent position.† In addition Dr. Keith Cassel became interim head of the Department of Soil Science.
CHALLENGES AND SUCCESSES
The greatest challenge facing our administrative team -- indeed, all of us -- relates to the budget. State appropriations come to the college through separate lines -- one for Agricultural Programs and the other for Academic Programs.
Agricultural Programs, which funds research and extension, received a 3.04 percent permanent reduction plus a 2.77 percent one-time cut. Cuts have occurred in each of the past four years. During that time Cooperative Extension has incurred 10.89 percent in permanent reductions and 14.5 percent in one-time reversions. To help balance its budget, Extension made significant staffing changes as vacancies occurred in the field and on campus.
Agricultural Research had similar budget reductions and must now cut to make up for reductions of $3.25 million in the last two years.
Academic Programs has also experienced cuts and, for the first time in 2003, did not receive tuition or enrollment increase funds to help offset cuts. As a result, Academic Programs cannot make additional appropriations to departments at this time.
These cuts have created difficulties, but our faculty, administration and college advancement team have worked diligently to offset the reductions by winning competitive grants and contracts and private support. Our innovative and entrepreneurial faculty set a record for contract and grant funding, securing more than $67.6 million in the past fiscal year. And total private support from all sources totaled $47.7 million for Fiscal Year 2002-03 -- a record for our college, for any college of agriculture and life sciences in the United States, and also for any college in the history of our university. By September 30, we had secured $112.9 million of our $180 million goal for the university's 2001-08 capital campaign.
FUNDS AND FRIENDS
College Advancement has played a key role in bringing about this success by building strong alliances among supporters. On the McSwain Center roof at the JC Raulston Arboretum, some 250 college friends gathered for our first-ever Fourth of July party, 75 joined us for an Old Fashioned Holiday Celebration at the Arboretum, and about 1,500 showed up for our College Tailgate at Dorton Arena. Before the Tailgate event, the Alumni and Friends Society dedicated its Walkway of Champions, which raised about $20,000, and honored Drs. Mark Stowers, president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Biotechnology Institute, and Dr. Warren Casey, a research manager for GlaxoSmithKline, with its 2003 Distinguished Alumni Awards.
In October, I had an opportunity to join Agriculture Commissioner Britt Cobb at the State Fair to present Jim Graham with our college's first Dean's Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Graham, who passed away on Nov. 20, had an immeasurable impact on agriculture in North Carolina, and the James A. Graham Scholarship will forever remind us of all he did on behalf of our college.
At our annual Donor Recognition Gala in November, the college recognized 2003 Outstanding Volunteer Award winners Elaine Marshall, North Carolina's secretary of state; Fleet Sugg, former head of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association; and Jeff Tennant, an executive with Farm Progress Companies. Duke Power, Dominion North Carolina, Progress Energy, the A.E. Finley Foundation and the N.C. Farm Bureau Federation were also recognized. At a separate event a few days later, the N.C. Agricultural Foundation honored N.C. Sen. David F. Weinstein of Lumberton and Rep. Harold Brubaker for ongoing support.
PROGRESS IN TEACHING, RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
Our college's entrepreneurial spirit was also evident in a number of teaching, research and extension activities. Overall enrollment in our associate, undergraduate and graduate programs rose in 2003, with 327 students in the Agricultural Institute, 3,564 in the undergraduate program and 800 in master's and doctoral programs during the fall semester. These students hail from all 100 North Carolina counties, 42 states and 47 countries.
Our first undergraduate international agricultural study tour allowed 10 students to study agriculture in Ireland and Scotland for two weeks in May, and in 2004 students are being offered the opportunity to participate in tours to several locations around the globe.
In the research and extension arena, value-added agriculture emerged as our leading priority, and faculty and staff members throughout the college made significant progress in identifying new crops, new enterprises and new production methods to help ensure that food, fiber and forestry remain a vibrant and integral part of our state's economy. Given the challenges facing commodity agriculture, the traditional backbone of the industry, a number of agencies and organizations recognize that partnerships are imperative for bringing about effective solutions. We are a key part of the Agricultural Advancement Consortium, which brings together a number of state agencies and organizations interested in improving profitability and developing markets. North Carolina A&T State University and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also continue to be invaluable partners in these efforts.
High-priority research areas were genomics and proteomics. Our faculty have made steady progress in tobacco and fungal genomics projects, and we are seeing the techniques being applied not just in our life sciences departments but also in the departments of Animal Science, Poultry Science, Horticultural Science and others. In 2004, we hope to establish facilities that will give our scientists the tools to pursue yet another "-omic" science, metabolomics, the profiling of small molecules that constitute metabolism. This field will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of processes affecting the health of humans, animals, plants and the environment.
Meanwhile, CALS researchers and extension specialists are making progress in finding new ways to prevent, detect and manage agricultural terrorism and other threats to homeland security. The Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry is making headway in basic research on anthrax, the Food Science Department has programs related to food safety and bioterrorism, and our Plant Disease and Insect Clinic is now part a National Plant Diagnostic Network organized to quickly detect introduced pests and pathogens.
When I moved from the research service to the dean's office, I made it a priority to meet with Cooperative Extension professionals through district meetings to learn about their vision for the future and their concerns. The Gateway Counties initiative, launched in 12 counties in 2003, represents a new opportunity for our university to fulfill its service mission. The initiative also should serve as a catalyst for bringing the wealth of relevant knowledge and research within all of N.C. State's colleges and disciplines -- not just those traditionally associated with Extension -- to bear on our state's needs.
Another noteworthy accomplishment for Extension in 2003 was a new plan to boost starting salaries for agents and correct resulting inequities so that our salaries will no longer be among the lowest in the Southeast. Meanwhile, administration made continued progress in securing field faculty status for our tremendously dedicated and important county extension agents.
We also pressed forward with efforts to achieve salary equity for campus and field faculty in all three of our functions -- teaching, research and extension.† In the past, when the legislature awards raises for teaching faculty members, funds were allocated to cover the percentage of faculty salaries devoted to academic programs. No additional funds were provided to enhance salaries of our research and extension faculty, and, for those with split positions, the funds applied only to the percentage of funding from academic programs.† Although we have not received funding, the Chancellor can now make all of our ranked field and campus faculty eligible for the salary adjustments.
In another attempt to foster an equitable environment that encourages and rewards faculty excellence, we have revised the college's reappointment, promotion and tenure guidelines and are now working to get all departmental guidelines on a Web site. This should help ensure that the process is consistent and open.
The college also made progress in 2003 in securing better
classrooms, laboratories and office spaces. At the Lake Wheeler Road Field
Laboratory, construction of our Feed Mill Educational Unit was completed and
the Beef Education Unit was dedicated in April. The Undergraduate Studies
Teaching Laboratory neared completion, and ground was broken for a major
renovation and expansion of David Clark Laboratories, the home of our
Department of Zoology. Meanwhile, construction design continues on Schaub Hall,
and plans for the renovation of Riddick Laboratories, Williams Hall, South
Gardner Hall and Polk Hall are under way.
As with any new year, 2004 will bring new challenges and opportunities. As dean, I plan to continue to press for faculty equity, and I will appoint a space committee, chaired by Dr. Blankenship, to address construction-related disruptions and help us anticipate and plan for future facility needs.
We will face continued budget challenges in the year ahead, and our priority will be to protect faculty and staff, making strategic adjustments as vacancies occur. †Provost Oblinger has expressed his commitment to getting the search for the dean's position under way in order to establish permanent leadership in the Deanís and other administrative positions in the college.
I'm grateful for the support that so many of you have given since I became interim dean in May, and I hope you will continue to share with me your concerns and your hopes for the future.
Best wishes for the New Year,
Dr. Johnny C. Wynne
Interim Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences