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Search Committee Names Four Finalists For Dean Of CALS

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor David Ward will consider four finalists for dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences recommended Tuesday by a college search committee.

The finalists are:

* ? Elton D. Aberle, professor and head of the department of animal science at the University of Nebraska.
* ? Alan B. Bennett, associate dean of plant sciences at the University of California-Davis.
* ? Larry K. Binning, chair of the UW-Madison department of horticulture.
* ? F. Dan Hess, head of the Palo Alto Research Center for Novartis Crop Protection, Inc., the world”s largest agricultural company.

Michael Pariza, chair of the 15-member search committee, said the finalists were chosen from a high-quality and diverse pool of more than 70 candidates. Each finalist will be scheduled to give a public lecture, giving interested parties at CALS a chance to hear their views.

“This is a unique college,” Pariza said. “There really is no other agriculture college in the country as big or as broad as UW-Madison”s.” Pariza said the committee looked for candidates with a strong belief in shared governance. They also needed a balanced knowledge of teaching, research and outreach goals, and an ability to work with agricultural leaders and the public.

The dean of CALS leads approximately 1,200 faculty and staff, and oversees an annual budget of roughly $115 million. The college enrolls more than 1,000 graduate and 2,100 undergraduate students. It also has a strong extension mission, with 12 agricultural research stations across the state.

Neal Jorgensen, a dairy science professor since 1968, currently serves as dean of the college. He replaced Roger Wyse, who resigned in June.

Aberle has been head of UN-Lincoln”s department of animal science since 1983. In 1996-97, he also served as interim associate dean and associate director of the university”s Agricultural Research Division. From 1967 to 1983, Aberle was on the animal sciences faculty at Purdue University.

During his tenure as department head, Aberle helped plan and coordinate a new $19.1 million department building that opened in 1988. Through the 1990s, a multi-year effort to redirect funds and create new faculty positions helped the department go from no competitive federal grants 10 years ago to approximately $500,000 in new grants each year, Aberle said. He also established new relationships between the department and state agriculture leaders.

Aberle”s research expertise is in muscle and adipose tissue growth, meat quality, and selected topics in meat processing. His teaching assignments included meat science and muscle biology, animal growth and food chemistry.

Bennett has been associate dean of plant sciences in UC-Davis” College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences since 1993. He has been a professor since 1983 and former chair of the vegetable crops department.

As associate dean, Bennett led a curriculum revision and recruitment program that helped plant science enrollment increase 500 percent since the program started, he said. During his term, Bennett said he also helped secure $4 million in National Science Foundation funds for new research facilities, and helped spearhead a $40 million building project.

Bennett currently teaches courses on membrane biology of plants, advanced concepts in plant cell biology, and plants and people. His research expertise includes plant biochemistry and molecular biology.

Binning, who was raised on a Fond du Lac County, Wis. dairy farm, has been chair since 1991 of the horticulture department. He has been on the UW-Madison faculty since 1969. Binning also directs the Arlington Horticulture Research Farm.

As chair, Binning said he helped maintain a strong graduate program while increasing undergraduate enrollment by about 10 percent annually. In fund-raising efforts, Binning has helped generate gifts and grants of $600,000 annually from public and private sources to support research and extension programs.

An expert in weed management, Binning is co-founder and co-director of the Nutrient and Pest Management program, which delivers extension programs on water quality and profitable dairy and crop farming. He is also chair of the Wisconsin Integrated Pest Management program, a training service for industry.

Hess was recently named to lead the Palo Alto Research Center for Novartis Crop Protection. He had been vice president for research since 1995 with Sandoz Agro Inc., which became Novartis Crop Protection after a 1997 merger. Hess grew up on a crop farm in central Washington State.

He also has a lengthy academic background, as a faculty member with Purdue University”s botany and plant pathology department from 1976 to 1985, and Colorado State University in 1975-76.

While in industry, Hess gained management experience in areas such as budget, safety, personnel, affirmative action, information technology and intellectual property issues.

Hess” university research expertise concerns the mechanism of action of herbicides, and he currently serves as president-elect of the 2,000-member Weed Science Society of America. He has taught courses in weed science, plant physiology and research methods, and still teaches continuing education courses for Purdue and the University of California-Davis.