By MITCH LIES
John Killefer, a professor in the department of animal sciences at the University of Illinois, has been named head of Oregon State University's animal sciences department.
Killefer will take over a department that is merging with the college's rangeland ecology and management department.
Called the department of animal and rangeland sciences, it is shifting its on-campus research emphasis from traditionally fed beef cattle to grass-based forage systems for dairy and beef cows and small ruminants such as sheep and goats.
Department and college administrators in recent months also decided to downsize the department's on-campus heads of beef cattle and sheep. It is reducing sheep from around 250 ewes a year to 50, and reducing its on-campus beef cattle herd from around 95 to 35.
The department previously moved its beef cattle extension specialist from campus to Burns, Ore.
Killefer will be responsible for filling several faculty positions in his first few months, which will help shape the future direction of the department.
College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Sonny Ramaswamy said Killefer is highly regarded among animal sciences educators.
Ramaswamy said the dean at University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences said, "You know, Sonny, we have the number one department of animal sciences in the country, and John is the number one faculty member in that department. You guys have hit a home run."
Killefer replaces Jim Males, who is retiring as department head. Males served as department head for 13 years.