The confluence of planned retirements, unplanned personnel changes, and restructuring have brought a number of changes to the administrative structure to the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and to the Wooster campus as well.
For several years, the college has been working toward greater integration of its two Wooster units -- Ohio State ATI and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). The integration has led to combined grounds and maintenance crews, a fiscal service center, combined human resources, and a single motor pool. With the retirement of OARDC Director Steven Slack in December, the college moved forward with another level of administrative restructuring.
All operational functions for the Wooster campus (both Ohio State ATI and OARDC) are now overseen by Director David Benfield, formerly OARDC associate director, and Associate Director Rhonda Billman, who formally served as assistant director for institutional services at Ohio State ATI. A newly-created position will oversee graduate education and research and will be housed on the Columbus campus. Dr. Jerry Bigham is serving as interim associate dean for research and graduate education. A national search for a permanent associate dean is underway.
Most of these changes were part of CFAES Dean Bruce McPheron's vision for the college. However, in September, Dean McPheron was named interim provost for The Ohio State University. A national search will also be conducted for the provost position, with the expectation of having a provost in place by the beginning of the next academic year. It is unknown if Dr. McPheron will be a candidate for the provost position, but the outcome of the provost search could potentially have an impact on CFAES leadership.
Dr. Ron Hedrick, senior associate dean, has been acting dean since Dr. McPheron became interim provost. However, Dr. Hendrick has been appointed dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University, his alma mater. Dr. Hendrick will remain in his current position as acting CFAES dean until June 30. Depending on the outcome of the provost search, it may be necessary for another interim dean to be appointed.
Dr. Jim Kinder has been serving as interim director of Ohio State ATI since 2012. The college has decided to move ahead on a national search for a permanent director. Dr. Kinder will remain in his position until Aug. 1 and then will return to teaching in the Department of Animal Sciences in 2017, following a year of faculty professional leave in Australia. Interim Dean Hendrick hopes that a director search can be accomplished on an aggressive schedule in order to have a permanent director in place this fall. The same national search firm that is assisting with the associate dean for graduate education and research position will also be assisting with the Ohio State ATI director search. However, Ohio State ATI will have another interim director to serve in the time between Dr. Kinder's departure and the appointment of a permanent director. The interim appointment has not yet been made.