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Idaho farm leaders happy with new ag college dean

Idaho farm industry leaders are happy with University of Idaho's decision to appoint Michael Parrella as the new dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Published on October 5, 2015 1:21PM

Last changed on October 5, 2015 2:59PM

Michael Parrella has been chosen to be the new dean of University of Idaho’s College of Agricultur

MOSCOW, Idaho — Idaho’s farming industry has responded well to University of Idaho’s announcement that Michael Parrella will be the new dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Parrella, who serves as the chair of University of California, Davis’ Department of Entomology and Nematology and associate dean of that university’s agricultural sciences department, will take over as dean of CALS on Feb. 1.

A 14-person advisory committee that began a nationwide search for the new CALS dean in January narrowed the pool of candidates to eight people who were interviewed in Moscow and also met ag industry leaders in Boise.

“I met all eight candidates ... and he clearly rose to the top in my mind,” Idaho Barley Commission Administrator Kelly Olson said of Parrella. “I liked his energy, his passion and he had fresh ideas. I really connected well with him.”

Olson said Parrella also “demonstrated a very strong record working with the California ag industry,” a sentiment echoed by others.

“He seemed to have a good rapport with industry (and) he understood private and public partnerships real well, which is important because land-grant universities are going to have to partner more with private entities to get the things we need to get done with agriculture and the university,” said Wilder farmer Doug Gross.

“The industry stakeholders on the advisory committee are extremely happy that he’s able to join us,” said Idaho Dairymen’s Association Executive Director Bob Naerebout, a search committee member.

Parrella said his interaction with ag industry stakeholders in Boise was positive and an important reason why he accepted the position.

He also said he did some homework on Idaho agriculture before he came here to be interviewed and he was struck by how important farming and ranching are to the state.

California total farm gate receipts are much higher than any other state but farming accounts for a much greater percentage of Idaho’s gross state product, he said.

“Agriculture is very important to the state of Idaho (and) people look to (CALS) for solutions to their problems,” he said. “To be a part of that is pretty exciting.”

He also said that while he understands California agriculture, “that doesn’t make me an expert in Idaho agriculture. I need to listen to the stakeholders and learn (from them).”

According to a UI news release, Parrella’s research focuses on developing integrated pest management programs for greenhouse and nursery crops, with an emphasis on biological control.

He was recently named vice president-elect of the Entomological Society of America.

Parrella, who was born and raised in New Jersey, has a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Rutgers University and a master’s and doctorate degrees in entomology from Virginia Tech.

“A number of stakeholders appreciated that he was an entomologist with a ‘hard’ science background,” Food Producers of Idaho Executive Director Rick Waitley said in the UI news release.

Parrella will take over from John Foltz, who has been acting as interim CALS dean since December 2012 and will continue to assist with ag initiatives, including leading UI’s Western Initiative for the Dairy Environment.


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