The return of students and fall colors reminds me to reflect on the year just passed and the one just beginning. Now into my second year as dean, I recognize the amazing array of opportunities I’ve had to represent the college and experience the diversity of CALS. From farm field days in Ithaca to marine outings in the Isles of Shoals, alumni events in New York City, and political meetings in Albany, the job has taken me to new places and introduced me to alumni, faculty, students, and staff involved in almost innumerable activities and interests. So perhaps it’s not surprising when I’m asked: “What’s it been like so far?” I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my highlights.
Getting to Know You This position has given me the opportunity to interact with a full spectrum of those who are truly dedicated to our college. I’ve found that I enjoy these interactions tremendously. Our inaugural “Coffee with the Dean” in April was the first of several events where I got to meet the CALS community in an informal setting. Ag Day, Empire Farm Days, the New York State Fair, ice cream socials, wine tastings, and other events around the quad and in the community have provided other relaxed venues for engagement. My interactions with students and alumni have been especially rewarding and inspiring. I love learning about the leaders we’re sending out into the world, and hearing about their wonderful accomplishments when they come back to visit.
Intrepid Explorer My curiosity to see what’s around every corner of CALS has been rewarded with discoveries about the amazing breadth and depth of offerings here. In faculty meetings, facility visits, and academic events, I’ve learned exactly what it is that our 3,500 undergraduates, 880 graduate students, and 364 faculty members do. The nutshell conclusion: A lot! One of my duties is to present awards to some of our amazing people. I look forward to these ceremonies, because each one provides further opportunity to discover and acknowledge great feats and commitment to the college. I am continuously inspired by the talent of our faculty and staff, and humbled to see how effectively they translate their passionate devotion to discovery into action as they deliver the college’s land grant mission of applying knowledge with a public purpose.
Politics as Usual My first budget season was a crash course in the New York political arena. I saw quickly how crucial it was to hone my focus and articulate just how important CALS is to the citizens of this state. We gained many supporters and our message was heard, resulting in restored funding to many threatened programs. As last November brought in a new cadre of political players, I’ve met with our leaders, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, Lt. Governor Robert Duffy, Agricultural Commissioner Darrel Aubertine, and other members of the new administration.
The Joy of Giving The support of alumni, friends, and industry partners, especially during these tough economic times, has been heartening. Clearly I’m not the only one who believes so strongly in the mission of this college, as evidenced by contributions to the CALS Annual Fund, which has topped $1 million for the past two years. I’ve also had the good fortune to attend many events celebrating some particularly generous gifts from alumni and friends, beginning with the naming of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and followed by the naming of the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Other gifts bolstered important programs and curriculum offerings. And then there was the groundbreaking—or rather, ice cream scooping—event to celebrate the beginning of construction on a new and improved home for food science at Stocking Hall. Who would have guessed the Livestock Pavilion could be transformed into such a classy venue?
A Year to Remember My early days as dean coincided with the 100-year anniversary of Cornell Cooperative Extension and New York Farm Bureau. Beginning with the commemoration of the first county agent, John Barron, in March, there have been a number of events to celebrate this milestone, and I’ve been delighted to participate in many.
I’m sure my tenure will continue to be eventful, and I look forward to swapping memories with more of you as we meet.
Kathryn J. Boor, Ph.D.
The Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Dean Boor (center) joins CALS students and faculty on a sod sofa on the Ag Quad in early September. Two dozen Art of Horticulture students transformed several truckloads of compost and pallets of sod into the huge and surprisingly elegant sofa.