Dec 092008
Authors: Tyler Okland

In the wake of former CSU Dean of Agriculture Mark Johnson’s resignation last May to move on to a higher-level position at the University of Nevada-Reno, a search committee is currently engaging in the search process to permanently fill the position, ideally by February.

The confidential application and interview process will narrow down the list of what search committee chair and interim Provost Lance Perryman said he considers “excellent candidates.”

“We’re looking for someone with strong leadership skills, (a) clear understanding of the land grant mission of our university, deep experiences with agriculture in a broad sense, ability to manage a complex budget and oversight of strategic planning for the college as a whole,” Perryman said.

CSU interim President Tony Frank is expected to review the top four candidates after they are publicly interviewed following the start of spring semester, Perryman said. Because Frank, as Provost, originally was to rule on the issue, Perryman expects the responsibility to transfer to the list of expected presidential duties.

“Let’s just assume that Tony Frank will be the ultimate decision maker,” he said.

Perryman said he anticipates the names of the final candidates to be disclosed in January and the final decision to be made by the end of February.

Lee Sommers, interim dean of Agriculture, suggested all candidates should satisfy three criteria.

“They’ve got to have strong internal connections with faculty and programs in other colleges. Secondly, they have to be deeply connected with the agriculture industries in the state, and they have to be aware of federal funding opportunities,” Sommers said.

Though he said he enjoys his position as interim dean, Sommers will step down when a replacement is chosen.

“I simply saw this as an opportunity to help as we go through the processes of hiring a new dean,” he said. “But I enjoy my previous position and I look forward to continuing that.”

Sommers said the committee is not restricting its search to applicants from Colorado.

“It is an open search, a national search, and there’s faculty representatives on the search committee actively involved in the screening process. It’s very much an open and collaborative search process,” Perryman added, saying that the search is necessarily broad, as the individual they intend to select must be of rare caliber.

Perryman said he believes the next Dean of Agriculture will more than satisfy the requirements of the position despite being responsible for nearly 1,450 students and 110 professors in the college.

“I’m very pleased with the quality of the applicant pool,” he said. “Mark did a great job, I enjoyed working with him when he was here, and clearly he went on to a higher-level position, but the applicants are qualified and talented.”

Staff writer Tyler Okland can be reached at

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