I wanted to share how much I appreciate the openness of the ESSM faculty and staff during my interim role as Department Head. It has been a real pleasure to get to know the department better and to learn more about Soil and Crop Sciences by comparing the two units. It has been a special pleasure to participate in the enthusiasm for a new curriculum, the efforts to redefine the graduate degrees and the commitment to a world-class research program and dedicated extension of cutting edge technologies. The department is rich in tradition and history, but has truly vested in a future that will keep it one of the best in the country.
It does not seem like it has been that long since Dr. Sams approached me about serving in this role, however, as I review my calendar it is amazing to see the things we have participated in. We completed the annual review process, honored our students for their academic accomplishments and produced the second set of graduates. Congratulations to Dr.Georgianne Moore on her promotion to Associate Professor with tenure, and to Dr. Rusty Feagin and Dr. Konstantin Krutousky on receiving tenure. I have had the opportunity with our associate heads to develop the 2013 fiscal budget and to work through merit and promotion salary adjustments. Several of our faculty have had opportunities for alternate careers and we have worked diligently for the best outcome for all involved. We wish Dr. Hart the best as he explores his new role with Dow. Congratulations to Dr. Doug Loh on his retirement and we appreciate his willingness to teach his courses as we go through the transition. We have completed land sales of Los Indios Ranch and set up an endowment fund for the support of La Copita.
Thanks to Dr. Gan we are making steady progress as we move toward accreditation of our forestry program. This will require a solid effort down the home stretch to as we present the department for review and consider modifications for the future.
While endowed support of the department has not grown rapidly, I have been amazed with the number of individuals that are interested in supporting the department as we go forward. I have had the opportunity to visit with a few of these individuals. The efforts of the unit in the past have truly inspired them to support the future -- you are to be congratulated. I will not be able to keep up with all of the potential so I have asked Judith Turlington to chair a committee to support this effort along with supporting interaction with those that hire our students. If you have contact information for anyone we should touch base with please let me know via Judith.
Transition is never easy, and we have had our bumps on the road to identifying a permanent head. I express my appreciation for those participating in the process. The seminars were of great value in considering alternatives. I have now committed to the interim role for the academic year. I am very impressed with all of the crew taking on a little bit more to make sure things keep moving in the right direction. I am sure that we will find a few things that have slipped through the cracks and I have procrastinated a few decisions thinking we would have a new head in place. As you know, it is my philosophy that decisions made by not making a decision can be costly so until we get new leadership I plan to develop consensus and move forward with the decisions that are on the table. This newsletter represents one of those decisions -- please share your ideas for improving it. A special thanks to Chris and Judith for making it happen and the committee on items to include. We will push decision process and consensus building with the Faculty Retreat on September 14. We will focus on the Forestry Accreditation, but will follow up to develop a strategic plan for guiding deployment of our faculty resources.
We need to get our seminar series moving. We can consider restructuring it, but it is essential for the department to vest in seminar for the benefit of our students and our own understanding of opportunities for collaboration within the department. Please start to think about how we can make seminar work for the spring semester.
A special thanks to the ESSM staff and the Soil and Crop Sciences staff for their efforts to support my sanity with many conflicts in play.
-- Dr. David Baltensperger