A new dean is coming to the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences.
The university on Tuesday named Alan Sams to lead the college, succeeding Dan Arp, who will retire at the end of August.
Sams has spent the last nine years as executive associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, managing academic programs, personnel and budgeting for one of the largest agricultural colleges in the country, with 350 faculty, 7,800 students and a budget of more than $69 million.
At Oregon State, Sams will oversee 250 faculty, 2,600 students and a $90 million research budget. The OSU College of Agricultural Sciences offers 13 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and works closely with state and federal partners including the USDA, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service and National Institutes of Health.
In a statement released Tuesday by the university, Sams said he is excited to join OSU, crediting a “student-centered environment combined with an excellent faculty at the forefront of their fields.”
“The breadth and economic importance of agriculture in Oregon, and the interest in environmental sustainability are factors which drew me to Oregon State University,” Sams said. “There is a tremendous innovative spirit here, whether it is in production agriculture or food entrepreneurship. Agriculture’s role in health, energy and national security is expanding and we need to lead that growth.”
Sams will also serve as director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station on campus in Corvallis. He begins his new duties Oct. 31. Bill Boggess, executive associate dean of the college, will serve as interim dean from Sept. 1 through Oct. 30 following Arp’s retirement.
During his nine years as executive associate dean at Texas A&M, Sams helped the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences increase enrollment by 25 percent, increase its budget by 30 percent and expand both research and international programs.
Sams was also previously dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences at Clemson University from 2007 to 2009.
Sams holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in poultry science and a doctorate in food science and human nutrition, all from the University of Florida, where he started his academic career as a graduate assistant. He joined the Texas A&M faculty in the Department of Poultry Science and Food Science in 1984, where he stayed until he was named dean at Clemson. He then returned to Texas A&M in 2009.
Sams also has experience in the private sector, having worked as a quality assurance analyst with Gold Kist Poultry in Florida.
Ed Feser, OSU provost and vice president, described Sams as a seasoned and savvy administrator with a strong vision for the college.
“There’s the strong experience factor with Alan,” Feser told the Capital Press. “Also, I think he’s very comfortable and skilled working with the different constituencies you need to work with at an agricultural college.”
A hiring committee of 15 people selected Sams from among a field of 12 candidates, Feser said, which was whittled down to four finalists who each visited campus earlier this year.
Feser said Sams has a strong sense of the college’s ability to serve agriculture in Oregon, as well as nationally and internationally.
“He has a great interest in working with stakeholders,” Feser said.
Dave Dillon, executive vice president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, said that bodes well for members who depend on the university for data, outreach and educating the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
“For us, OSU is our land grant institution,” Dillon said. “It has the closest connection to family farms and ranches. The things that they do have an ongoing relevance to producers well beyond their college years.”
Dillon said he had the chance to meet with Sams in person on campus, and is pleased with the hire.
“I feel very optimistic that he is going to do great things for the College of Agricultural Sciences and the university,” Dillon said.