CEW-MR-2-GovDay029by Jon M. Casey

Dr. Barbara Christ, Ph.D., senior associate dean and professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences, was recognized for her service as interim dean at the Government/Industry Day luncheon, hosted by Penn State at Ag Progress Days on Wednesday Aug. 13, 2014. Christ has served as interim dean for the past two years, while a search for previous department dean’s replacement took place. Christ will be turning the responsibilities over to newly appointed dean, Dr. Richard Roush, on Oct. 1, 2014.

Penn State President Eric J. Barron expressed his thanks to Christ for her support during this challenging time, noting that the addition of Roush will continue the work that has taken place in the School of Agriculture that has helped make Penn State University one of the leading agriculture schools in the nation. Roush, who currently serves as professor and dean at the University of Melbourne School of Land and Environment in Melbourne, Australia, will add his expertise in the study of entomology, to help facilitate new research in his new role.

In receiving her award from Joel Rotz of the Penn State Ag Council, Christ said she is looking forward to returning to her role as associate dean, and to working with Roush. She said she has enjoyed gaining new relationships with those in government, especially the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, during her tenure as interim dean.

“I will remain committed to the Ag Community, already having served at Penn State for more than 30 years,” she said. “I cannot tell you the appreciation I have for this award and [the regard I have for all involved]. You could not have given me something better,” she noted, acknowledging how the award was crafted from wood taken from an elm tree that formerly grew on the PSU campus.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf each offered comments on their past successes and aspirations for Pennsylvania and Penn State in particular. Corbett recalled how the efforts he made during his time as Attorney General under previous administrations helped bring about the ACRE legislation that has made farming less litigious under this new law. Additionally, Corbett said his push for funding for higher education during financially difficult times has helped to maintain essential research and educational programs, especially at land grant schools like Penn State.

Wolf said that his experience as Revenue Secretary under former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, and his successes as a former family business owner that employs approximately 250 people gives him the leadership skills needed to lead state government.

Penn State President Dr. Eric J. Barron, welcomed attendees to the Government/Industry Day luncheon, and gave thanks to those who have helped to keep Penn State a leader in agriculture. He thanked Governor Corbett for reinstating “The Governor’s School” for agriculture this year, after a five-year hiatus. He noted that approved funding for 2014 and 2015 would help 40 elite high school students to participate in this program, saying their attendance in the school gives them insights into what it would mean to pursue a career in agriculture.

Barron announced that Nationwide Insurance Company gave a $1 million gift to the university to endow a professorship in the School of Agriculture that will focus on farm safety. He said this was the first endowed professorship of its kind at the school. “Dennis Murphy, distinguished professor of agriculture and biological engineering, was appointed as the first holder of the Nationwide Insurance Professorship,” said Barron. “These funds will provide him with the resources to expand research, teaching and outreach efforts in the best safety practices.”

Barron closed saying a new center to explore solutions for nutrient pollution has been established as one of four National Centers for Innovative and Sustainable Water Research. After receiving a $2.2 million Science to Achieve Results grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the college will work to protect the commonwealth’s water supply. New studies and programs will be established to help solve the existing problems that affect the Pennsylvania watershed and Chesapeake Bay.