Ag dean candidate wants more grants, faculty
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 02:05
The final candidate for the dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources visited campus this week, rounding out the search committee’s interview process.
Cameron Hackney, who is currently the special assistant to the Provost at West Virginia University, spoke at Townsend Hall on Wednesday about his background and vision for the university. He served as dean of the West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources & Design for 11 years and has also taught at Louisiana State University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
He said he was impressed by the university’s service mission as a land-grant school, an institution that receives government funding for land use for educational purposes.
“Land-grant universities are more important now than ever before,” Hackney said.
Hackney said the life sciences field is becoming more important and would like to continue his work in that area at the university.
To achieve higher rankings at the university, Hackney said he would strive to gain more grants, hire more faculty members and improve policies for instructors.
“We need to take care of the faculty as well as the students,” Hackney said.
Professor Steven Hastings, who is the associate chairman of the food and resource economics department and attended Hackney’s presentation, stated in an email message that the new dean should acknowledge the faculty’s various talents.
“As a faculty member, I’d like to have a dean that recognizes that faculty have different strengths and that the college and university will benefit if faculty are encouraged and rewarded for using those strengths,” Hastings said.
Hackney said the university’s revenue-based budgeting philosophy, which posits that funds should go toward the programs considered strongest and most in need of financial support, will allow the dean many options while distributing the agricultural school’s budget.
When Virginia Tech officials faced budget cuts, Hackney said he established a teacher and student committee to decide which programs could be cut down, instead of firing faculty. He would like to continue such a program at the university.
“You can’t budget your way to greatness,” he said.
Hackney founded an equine science and management program three years ago at West Virginia University that was well-received by donors, and he said he would like to create a similar program at the university.
Kent Messer, a food and resource economics professor, attended the presentations by all three candidates and is optimistic about the upcoming selection of a new dean.
He said it’s important for the candidates to recognize the talents of the outgoing dean, Robin Morgan, and build from her strengths.
“I had a chance to hear all their presentations and meet each candidate,” Messer said. “Each brought a different and compelling vision.”