Spring leadership message

By Kate VandenBosch, Dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Kate VandenBosch. Photo by Michael P. King/UW-Madison CALS

The past several years have been a period of intense change – where we have adopted new technologies, adjusted to dramatic swings in consumer behaviors and frequently find ourselves saying “You’re on mute.” Amidst these changes, UW-Madison, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls successfully launched the Dairy Innovation Hub requiring cooperation of dairy leaders, elected officials and UW System faculty and staff. I am very proud to have been part of this effort.

You may have heard that these are my final months as dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison and therefore, my final months as the chair of the Dairy Innovation Hub’s Leadership Committee. It has been an honor to hold this position and I could not have asked for better partners than my fellow deans Dale Gallenberg and Wayne Weber. Although none of us attended the very first meeting of problem solvers at Mitch Breunig’s Mystic Valley Dairy, we have had the opportunity to work together to implement that early vision of research that will support Wisconsin’s celebrated dairy community into the next generation. Building collaborations among our campuses has been one of the most satisfying aspects of our work.

As you know, one of the primary objectives of the Hub is attracting new talent to the dairy sector. In just three years, the Hub has supported 14 new faculty members, 13 postdoctoral researchers, and five graduate students. These recruits have been drawn to the Hub’s network of dairy researchers. We have also recruited existing talent at UW to apply their expertise in new ways to advance the goals of the Hub. This vibrant community powers the Hub’s innovative research and provides an unparalleled training environment for young dairy scientists.

I expect that the Hub will also be an attractive strength as UW welcomes a new generation of leaders.

At the end of January, the Board of Regents announced Jay O. Rothman will become the next president of UW System on June 1. Rothman, chairman and CEO of law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, is not a stranger to agriculture, having grown up on a small hobby farm outside of Wausau. He replaces Tommy Thompson, who has been in the president role since 2020.

The UW-Madison chancellor search recently launched, with finalist interviews expected to be conducted in May.

The search for my successor as dean is also underway. Several members of the search committee have strong ties to the Hub, including Faculty Director Heather White and UW-Madison Steering Committee Chair Troy Runge. We expect on-campus interviews for finalists to include public presentations. Schedules will be posted to the search website.

I look forward to briefing the new dean on the achievements and priorities of the Hub. And I know that my Hub colleagues look forward to introducing President Rothman to the faculty and students forwarding research of the Hub. They will make sure that our senior UW leaders are well acquainted with the impact of the Hub’s work and its people. I wish them all the best of success in the coming years.