Lack of applicants hurts College of Agriculture’s search for new dean

Meghann Rise

Meghann Rise

SDSU is still looking for a new dean for one of the university’s largest colleges after a search last year did not produce an acceptable leader.

The College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences has been searching for a new dean since last spring. Two candidates were interviewed for the position, but neither was chosen.

Lewis Brown, Dean of Engineering and head of the search committee, said there were probably fewer applicants because of the switch of the provost. Carol Peterson retired and Laurie Nichols replaced her. Brown said he believes fewer people wanted to apply because people wanted to know who their boss was going to be.

“We’re really excited now,” Brown said. “We have our new provost in place, the committee will be meeting next week, and a new ad just came out in the Chronicle of Higher Education.”

The committee that will be conducting the search is different than the one from this spring. Brown will be head of the committee, and also returning, the Secretary of Agriculture.

“We have several new members from around the state, who represent constituents of the Department of Agriculture,” Brown said.

The committee will meet next week, and its first course of action will be getting to know each other.

The schedule and course of action will be reviewed, after which each member of the committee will be assigned a specific role.

“We are being very proactive,” Brown said. “We are advertising now as of this week, and we are contacting potential applicants and encouraging them to apply.”

The committee is accepting applications online and hopes to start interviewing by the first of November. The new dean would start no later than June or July of 2010, and would succeed SDSU alumnus Gary Lemme, who led the college for four years. Don Marshall has served as the interim dean since November.

“I think he has done a great job holding down the fort while the search is taking place for a permanent replacement,” said Dani Herring, an agriculture education major.

Aside from having sufficient research, people skills and a doctorate, dean applicants must be successful, proven academic leaders with administrative experience comparable to that of a dean, associate dean, department head or director.

There are many other stringent qualifications that must be met to ensure that a qualified candidate is selected to lead the department.

“With the College of Ag. and Bio. being one of the largest colleges on campus, it is important to have a strong leader for it,” Herring said. “Stakeholders across South Dakota and throughout the Midwest rely on the graduates, research and extension that come out of the College of Ag. and Bio. and we need a leader to match that job description.”

Although the search process has taken longer than anticipated, the end result will benefit the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, as well as the state, Herring said.

“It has taken longer than expected to find a replacement for Dean Lemme, but in the long run I think it will be worth it.”