With apologies to Thornton James “Pookie” Hudson of The Spaniels:
Goodbye, Beavers, well, it’s time to go,
I hate to leave you, but I really must say,
Goodbye, Beavers, goodbye.
As I sit here mulling over my “final” observations for our College’s newsletter, The Source, Lonnie is in my office packing stuff that I have accumulated over the last many years during my sojourns in New Jersey, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Kansas, Indiana, and now Oregon. She’s joking that I’ll be the only one in Washington, DC with a collection of entomological and motorcycling tsotchkes—an interesting combination, indeed!
I never thought that my tenure as dean of the College was going to be so short. I continue to relive the phone call I received late last summer, as Todd Bastian and I were heading to the Portland airport, which invited me to consider this leadership role at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and which has changed my life completely. I do not know what’s in store for me, having never left college, as it were. By nature I am impatient, and my wife reminds me that government may not be the best place for an impatient man. We’ll see—my intention is to make a difference.
Regardless, it’s going to be exciting—to be able to help frame our nation’s food, agricultural, and natural resources research and education agenda.
The outpouring of congratulations, goodwill, and gratitude has been amazing.
As I look back, it’s hard to believe that it’s coming on close to three years since I became dean. You may have heard me joke about how it must have been bad luck I brought to Oregon State University, because the College was subjected to serious budget cuts—just since 2009, we have lost almost 25 percent of our state support.
It felt like every waking moment—and for that matter even in my dreams—I was involved in working with my colleagues in trying to come up with ways to deal with the budget reductions. We eliminated positions, we reduced our footprint, we made offsets with grant support and donated funds, and we required stakeholders to ante up.
The 2011 legislative session was an amazing event which brought out unequalled and passionate support of our stakeholders, including our students. With their support we were able—for the most part—to turn back a proposed and very significant budget reduction. In my years of working in multiple institutions, I had never seen anything like it.
Although it felt like all of my efforts were aimed at dealing with the budget reductions, I take pride in a number of things I brought to the College—for framing the vision of preeminence, purpose, and impact, for bringing a more purposeful approach to help student and faculty success, for creating the sense that our academic endeavors must ultimately be about innovations that help society, and for articulating the idea that everything we do must be purposeful and deliberate. It’s good to see all of these efforts come to fruition in the past two and a half years or more—in enabling support for our faculty, staff, and students, in framing the research agenda, in the development arena—helping the College strive for preeminence.
Good things have come of the efforts of our amazing students, faculty, and staff, and my role has been that of a catalyst, an enabler, a facilitator, and a cheerleader. I believe I brought a can-do attitude and an unapologetic sense that our College is one of the best of its kind.
Tune in — in the years to come, the seed we have planted in the form of a number of initiatives I hope will come to fruition, to provide “shade for the generations to come”.
During the past almost three years, I have traveled many miles in Oregon, interacted on and off campus with many, and have made lifelong friendships. Oregon State University and Oregon are my wife’s and my adopted home, and we will cherish our time here and our friends. I know our paths will cross again!
You may have heard me speak to how we are all the sum of our experiences. My thinking and my vision, as I get ready to take on the mantle of leading our nation’s food and agricultural research and education agenda, has been honed by my time as dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences.
I want to thank you for your passionate and unparalleled support of our College and my efforts as dean, and for having allowed my wife Gita and me to be a part of this amazing institution and this amazing state.
Instead of goodbye, I bid everyone au revoir!