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New UW–Madison CALS dean named

October 21, 2011 By Jill Sakai

Kathryn VandenBosch, professor of plant biology at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, has been selected as the new dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“We are delighted that professor VandenBosch will be joining us. She brings a wealth of experience, accomplishments, and leadership acquired at public land grant institutions not dissimilar from Wisconsin. Her very articulate and insightful approach will be most effective in the diverse components of CALS and Wisconsin’s agricultural community,” says Provost Paul M. DeLuca Jr.

VandenBosch has headed the plant biology department at the University of Minnesota since 2001, with a brief hiatus in 2006 to serve as interim dean of the newly formed College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. She is also a member and former chair of the executive committees of both the Faculty Senate and the University Senate.

“I am really honored by my selection and very appreciative of how welcoming everyone has been. I’m looking forward to getting to know people better and becoming a part of the CALS community,” VandenBosch says.

Her research focuses on the genetics of plant-microbe interactions and nitrogen fixation in legumes, a family that includes several agriculturally important species, and in 2009 was named a fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Prior to her tenure at the University of Minnesota, VandenBosch was a faculty member at Texas A&M University for 12 years. She holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in botany from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and spent time at both UW–Madison and the John Innes Institute in Great Britain as a postdoctoral associate.

“I think of myself as an alumna even though I don’t have a degree from Wisconsin. I’ve always had a fondness for the place and a great respect for the research conducted there,” she says. “There are few places that could equal UW–Madison. Wisconsin has a land grant mission in concert with strong basic science and a strong liberal arts university.”

A 16-member search-and-screen committee composed of faculty, staff, students, and current and former members of the CALS board of visitors recommended a short list of three finalists to the chancellor and the provost from which they made their selection.

VandenBosch will assume her new role on March 1, 2012, and will receive a salary of $250,000. Interim Dean William F. Tracy, who has held the position since Jan. 2, will return to his roles as professor and chair of the Department of Agronomy.

“Dean Tracy has provided excellent guidance and leadership for CALS. We would like to extend our thanks for his tireless work throughout his appointment and in the months to come,” says DeLuca.

Established in 1889, CALS enrolls approximately 2,600 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students and carries out UW–Madison’s mission as a public land-grant university. The dean is the chief academic and executive officer of the college, with responsibility for personnel, budget, fund raising, community relations, curriculum, academic affairs, and physical facilities.

The dean oversees the college’s 19 academic departments, which span environmental, social, and basic life sciences and production agriculture, as well as numerous research centers and a range of outreach and university extension activities. The dean also coordinates Cooperative Extension Service programs within the college and serves as director of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station.