Matthew Weaver/Capital Press
LIND, Wash. — Eastern Washington farmers heard from the new dean of Washington State University’s agriculture college for the first time as he spoke at the university’s dryland research station field day June 14.
André-Denis Wright took over June 1 as dean of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.
“The university and especially the college CAHNRS is an envy to most agricultural colleges across this country,” he said.
WSU is the number-one college funded by USDA, Wright said.
“The stakeholders, you folks are amazing,” he told farmers. “You’re the envy of the rest of the country.”
The National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development Survey in March found WSU researchers received $42.8 million in USDA research and development funding in the 2016 fiscal year, leading the list of 350 universities nationwide.
“Not to say they weren’t supportive in the other places I’ve been, but there’s a lot more opportunity here, and I think people here really understand and appreciate the value and importance of agriculture,” Wright said. “That’s something I think a lot of people across the country have lost sight of.”
Wright was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a province known for lobsters and fishing. It was also the blueberry and apple capital of Canada at the time.
Visiting earlier in the week with farmers and researchers about the various crops Washington produces and seeing apple orchards and blueberries, Wright said he felt as though he was back home.
Wright worked nearly 20 years to increase the efficiency of nutrient utilization in livestock and raise the level of sustainable food production. Much of his effort focused on reducing the enteric methane produced by cattle as they digest feed.
He spent 12 years in Australia, working for the government as a research scientist. That’s where he met his wife to be and they married and had a daughter.
He became head of the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Vermont, a position he held for five years, and then was approached to lead a new school, as director of the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He held the position for three years.
Wright joked that he’d gotten rid of his University of Arizona clothing. His daughter asked if she could still wear Arizona apparel when UA’s Wildcats play WSU’s Cougars in November. He told her “No,” he said with a smile as the audience laughed.
Wright said he hopes to have his wife and daughter in attendance at the Lind Field Day next year.
“I am very happy to be here,” he said. “I hope this is my forever home. We’ll raise our daughter here and become part of the community.”