College plans to stay on course
By MITCH LIES
Oregon State University officials said it will be business as usual at the College of Agricultural Sciences as they prepare for the departure of Dean Sonny Ramaswamy.
"We will continue to do the things we've always done as it relates to our land-grant mission," said Bill Boggess, executive associate dean at the college.
But, Boggess said, administrators will be hesitant to advance significant policy changes in the absence of a permanent dean.
"It leaves you a little less nimble to respond to either new challenges or opportunities that might pop up," Boggess said, "because you don't want to make a big change and have a new dean come in and have them say they don't want to go in that direction."
The Obama administration on March 6 selected Ramaswamy to lead the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
OSU officials said in a press release last week that the provost office will announce plans for leadership transition over the next few weeks.
When Ramaswamy departs, expected in early May, the college will be without a permanent dean for the second time in less than three years.
It took 13 months for the college to replace former Dean Thayne Dutson, who held the position for 15 years before he retired in June of 2008.
Boggess served as interim dean during the transition.
"The thing that everyone has to understand about an institution that is 140 some years old is that it is never one person," Boggess said. "There are always different directions, different personalities of whoever is leading an organization. But core programs going on by faculty and staff will continue, and the programs will still be consistent with our long-term mission."
Ramaswamy, like Boggess, said he believes the college will function fine in the wake of his departure.
"I think we have great leadership in our associate deans and all of our department heads and in our college of ag sciences as a whole," Ramaswamy said.
"They are going to continue to do that great work they already are doing. That is not going to stop just because I have this wonderful opportunity."
Todd Bastian, chief development officer for the College of Agricultural Sciences, said Ramaswamy's departure to the high-profile position will add appeal to the dean's position.
"I think it brings an incredible recognition to the pre-eminence of the college and the university," Bastian said, "and I think it is going to set us apart when we do the dean-hiring process.
"This is going to bring recognition to the great things we do, and I think it is going to allow us to recruit a wonderful new person," Bastian said.
During his 33-month tenure at the college, Ramaswamy left his imprint, Boggess said.
"He brought a lot of focus on the need to think about new ways of achieving our mission," Boggess said. "What we were trying to achieve and why we were trying to achieve it wasn't different, but how we best do it in this day and age was.
"He also was an enthusiastic representative of the college in the capital campaign to endow positions and obtain scholarships," Boggess said.