Dear CAHNRS Faculty and Staff Colleagues:
June 13th was my first official day back, full-time, in the CAHNRS Dean’s office after having served almost a year as one of two Co-Provosts at WSU. I must admit that I am very pleased to be back in the college where I began my academic career, and a college that I truly love being part of. I experienced and learned a great many things during my time in the Provost Office, and I believe that many of the university-wide perspectives I gained in that role will enhance my ability to serve our college in positive ways moving forward. It also underscored my conviction about something I had already known and appreciated — that I am, and we are, very fortunate to be part of a college at WSU that is so successful, and that has such monumental impact, quality, scope, and depth.
The past 11 months was a difficult and challenging time, and in terms of impacts on colleges caused by changing administrative roles to provide leadership support to the university, there was not much argument in expecting that CAHNRS would have been the most impacted of the WSU colleges. But due to the extraordinary and effective leadership provided by Acting Dean Kim Kidwell, Associate Deans Rich Koenig and Jim Moyer, the CAHNRS administrative staff, together with your dedication, efforts, and support, the college not only continued to operate in a stable and productive manner, it also managed to continue to advance important strategic goals and initiatives. I am deeply thankful to Kim, Rich and Jim, and all of you, for ensuring that we met the challenges and succeeded in dealing with them — the most expansive and complex college at Washington State University not only maintained its effectiveness in achieving its mission, but continued to successfully advance its aspirational strategic goals.
There will be some continuing as well as some new challenges facing the college and university as we move forward into the next academic year and beyond. One of the higher priority issues will be the need for the university to address some budgetary concerns, of which I am sure you are aware given President Schulz’s message to the university community issued last week. We are a strong college, and a strong university, and we will address them and be successful as we always invariably have been. Rest assured that I will engage you in transparent communication and dialog about any issues and initiatives if/when they become relevant and it is prudent to do so.
I will close this first message since returning to the college by reiterating that I am indeed very glad to be back, I am deeply thankful for and proud of all of your accomplishments during these past 11 months, and I pledge to you that I will dedicate myself to working hard and well in support of you and the college, and in so doing, hope that you will also be equally as glad that I am back for a while.
Best Regards to All,
Ron Mittelhammer (’78)
As you may have heard, Friday was a day of announcements that have a direct and significant impact on CAHNRS and WSU leadership. I was named interim co-provost for WSU, and I subsequently named Kim Kidwell as the acting dean for CAHNRS.
Rest assured that the CAHNRS leadership team is perfectly well-suited to handle this unusual situation. Dr. Kidwell has my utmost confidence, and she has real-time on-the-job dean experience to provide strong leadership of CAHNRS in my absence. Moreover, she will have the unwavering support of our highly skilled and effective associate deans, Rich Koenig and Jim Moyer. You will recall that this is the same impactful leadership team, with Dr. Kidwell at the helm that led CAHNRS while I was away with a medical issue last winter, and this team functioned spectacularly well. It will be a smooth transition — the college is in excellent hands.
The leadership style will be almost exactly as it was last winter, the one difference being that I will actually be available to answer questions, or provide perspectives/opinions about matters, from the very start – if/when such input is sought by Kim. That said, I want to underscore that Kim will be acting in the capacity of the dean of CAHNRS for all issues of any consequence to the faculty, staff, and students of CAHNRS, and henceforth any matters that are destined for consideration by, or requiring decisions by the CAHNRS dean will now be directed to her. The only “dean responsibilities” that I will retain involve completion of some continuing issues that are in need of closure and that for the sake of efficiency make sense for me to handle, as well as a few auxiliary duties of the dean that are not central to the day-to-day operation of CAHNRS.
Kim has assured me that she intends to continue to implement the “flat model” of leadership that we have been routinely practicing in CAHNRS, whereby the dean and associate deans oversee the college as a collaborative and consensus-seeking executive team in analyzing issues and making decisions. In that model, the dean (Kim) acts in the capacity of “chairperson of the board”, and collaborative support and insights are provided by “board members” Rich and Jim. And of course CAHNRS will still be supported by our magnificent finance, operations, communications, computer, and HR support units.
In fact, the high quality and effectiveness of this CAHNRS leadership team played a significant role in the current temporary change, as Interim President Dan Bernardo wrote in his announcement last week. He praised the team’s ability to manage the college successfully in a stressful time without me.
Please note that these temporary changes are planned to end when a permanent replacement is found for the late WSU President Elson Floyd. While the timeline is uncertain, the current expectation is that the horizon will span 6 – 9 months.
I expect the current forward trajectory that has been established for the college to continue, and we have the leadership stability and experience to keep CAHNRS moving forward.
Thank you for your support, and for the dedication, effort, and contributions you make to ensure the future success of CAHNRS, and of WSU.
I have some important information to share with you related to the Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center (NWREC).
As of May 1, 2015, Dr. Steve Jones relinquished his responsibilities as director of the NWREC. The rationale for this change arose following several productive discussions, during which it became evident that Steve enthusiastically wants to pursue additional research, education, and outreach activities for the successful and growing Bread Lab. Dr. Jones has now assumed his new responsibilities as Director of the NWREC Bread Lab.
Dr. Debra Inglis, professor and extension plant pathologist, has agreed to assume the role of interim director of the center. At Debra’s request, her appointment will span no more than three months as we seek to expeditiously hire a new director for the NWREC.
We will keep you abreast of developments at the center and about the future of the directorship as they take shape. While transitions require extra effort for everyone involved, we are excited by the possibilities that this change brings to both the Bread Lab, and the NWREC.