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OSU dean to lead federal ag institute

Ramaswamy appointed director of National Institute of Food and Agriculture


Capital Press

Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Sonny Ramaswamy has been appointed director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture by President Barack Obama.

He will leave OSU later this spring to assume the post, which carries a six-year term.

NIFA, formerly the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, is the lead agency within the USDA that supports research, education and extension programs in the nation's land-grant university system. According to its website, the institute works "to ensure that groundbreaking research discoveries go beyond the laboratory."

The institute had an operating budget of $1.3 billion for fiscal year 2011.

Ramaswamy replaces Roger Beachy, who resigned May 20 of last year after less than two years as director. Chavonda Jacobs-Young has been acting director since Beachy left.

OSU's Office of the Provost will announce plans for leadership transition over the next few weeks, according to an OSU press release.

Ramaswamy started at OSU on Aug. 1 of 2009. He replaced Thayne Dutson, who served as dean of OSU's agricultural college for 15 years.

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.

"The vision and progressive thinking that Sonny has brought to the College of Agricultural Sciences has helped position Oregon State as one of the leading land grant universities in the nation," said Carl Casale, an OSU graduate and president of CHS Inc., a leading energy, grains and foods company.

Ramaswamy came to OSU from Purdue University, where he was associate dean of the College of Agriculture and directed the university's agricultural research programs.

Prior to that he was head of the Department of Entomology at Kansas State University for seven years.

Ramaswamy began his academic career as a research assistant at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees.

He received his Ph.D. at Rutgers University.

All his degrees are in entomology.

Ramaswamy is the second OSU faculty member to be tapped for high-ranking positions in the Obama administration. In 2009, Jane Lubchenco was named the under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.




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