By SHELLY STRAUTZ-SPRINGBORN
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Dr. Fred Poston, Michigan State University’s vice president for finance and operations, recently was named the new dean of the university’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and special adviser to the president, effective Jan. 1, 2013.
He is returning to the college where he served as dean for eight years, from 1991-98. He succeeds Douglas Buhler, who has served as interim dean since January 2011.
With extensive experience in teaching, research and extension, Poston is excited about the opportunity. “It’s a great feeling. It almost feels like going home to me,” he said.
During the past year, MSU conducted an extensive search for a new CANR dean and came up short. “The search didn’t yield the right candidate,” Poston said. “Nobody came out of it that everybody can get excited about, which usually says they haven’t got the right person in the pool, yet.”
Poston said the college recently conducted a forum to seek input and comments from CANR faculty and staff regarding his appointment, and he had a positive reception.
“We are very grateful that Dr. Poston has agreed to return to the college where he began his MSU career,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “He brings to the position his knowledge of our land-grant mission, a strong awareness of the needs of Michigan’s agriculture community and, of course, familiarity with the college.
“I’d also like to thank Interim Dean Doug Buhler, who guided the college with a sure and steady hand through challenging times.”
Poston has been vice president for finance and operations since 1999. During that time, he managed the financial planning of the university, kept housing costs among the lowest of the Big 10, oversaw the building of a nationally acclaimed recycling center and facilitated a new university-wide human resources management program.
“Fred possesses broad knowledge and understanding of both the mission of MSU and agriculture and natural resources industries, making him an ideal choice to lead this college,” said MSU Provost Kim Wilcox.
In his time as dean, Poston guided the Revitalization of Michigan Animal Agriculture project, created Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs) and developed the Partnership for Co-System Research and Management with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
Poston said the CANR has changed significantly since his former tenure, and he plans to spend some time getting to know the current issues concerning the college by talking with department chairs.
“I have a vision for a college that no longer exists. I have to reacquaint myself with the college,” he said. “The needs within the industry have changed and evolved.”
He also plans to meet with agricultural leaders from various commodity groups and from Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB).
“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to again work with Dr. Poston,” said MFB President Wayne Wood. “Under his previous tenure, we experienced completion of two of the most important projects impacting agriculture, the Animal Initiative and Project GREEEN. We look forward to that same vision and leadership as we tackle the challenges and opportunities facing our industry today.”
James Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Assoc., agreed Poston is a positive selection for the job.
“I am thrilled about MSU’s appointment of Fred Poston as dean of CANR,” he said. “He has a long history with Michigan agriculture and understands the importance of the industry to the state. He will restore the partnership between agribusiness and MSU and continue MSU’s long commitment to agriculture.”
Prior to coming to MSU, Poston was director of Washington State University’s Cooperative Extension Service and associate dean of agriculture and home economics. Before that, he was on the entomology faculty at Kansas State University and was associate director of the Kansas Cooperative Extension Service. A native of Florida, he earned his bachelor’s degree from West Texas State University and his graduate degrees in entomology from Iowa State University.
A decision regarding filling the vice president role for finance and operations will be completed in the next few months.