We offer well-deserved congratulations to Sonny Ramaswamy, the dean of Oregon State University's College of Agriculture Science, who last week was appointed director of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture by President Barack Obama.
NIFA supports research, education and extension programs in the nation's land-grant university system. He is tentatively set to assume his new duties May 1.
Since becoming dean in August 2009, Ramaswamy has been a tireless advocate for the college in particular, and Oregon agriculture in general. He came to OSU at a time when budget cuts required greater innovation to keep the ag college's mission moving forward.
During his tenure, Ramaswamy consolidated the rangeland and animal sciences department into the Rangeland Ecology and Management Department, and reworked the funding formula for the college's experiment stations to include more reliance on outside donations. OSU's agricultural research programs grew to almost $60 million in grants and contracts and private support for the college grew to $77 million.
Ramaswamy also directed the new Rangeland Ecology and Management Department to shift its on-campus research emphasis from traditionally fed beef-cattle systems to grass-based forage systems for dairy and beef cows and small ruminants.
In the course of his 33-month tenure he frequently traveled the state to build support from all sectors of the ag community for the college and its research programs.
Ramaswamy's NIFA appointment has been in the works for several months, and has been known for some time by many within the university and ag community, but the work of finding a replacement has yet to begin. OSU's Office of the Provost will announce plans for the transition in the near future.
The next dean will have some big shoes to fill, and some equally large challenges in managing the college's future. We hope the next dean has Ramaswamy's energy and vision.