Foreword – Fall 2019


Agronomy professor Mary Wiedenhoeft has been a teacher and mentor to many CALS students and alumni over the years – myself included. She was the adviser for Sigma Alpha, the professional sorority for women in agriculture I belonged to as an undergrad and now advise. And Mary was an unwavering supporter for me during my early years as a communications professional.

Mary was honored as a Morrill Professor this fall, a title conferred to faculty who demonstrate outstanding success in teaching and learning as reflected by national or international reputation.

“I am honored, beyond belief. I thought I was just doing my job,” Mary told me. “My parents taught me excellence; my faith provides the passion for people; my husband, family, colleagues and friends give me strength. It takes a village to receive honors like the Morrill Professorship.”

Mary’s words stuck with me as I approached this issue of STORIES. It also takes a village to create the outstanding student experience available for CALS students. Many professors like Mary don’t just teach in the classroom, they also advise, work with student groups and supervise students in their research (read more about Mary’s work with the Good Earth Student Farm on page 28). Assistant teaching professor of food science Kate Gilbert shares a similar sentiment about helping students find careers they are passionate about (see page 24).

Together faculty and staff create opportunities for our students to build their own unique CALS advantage. In the pages that follow, you’ll meet exceptional students who are becoming experts in their disciplines, finding their voices for advocacy, innovating and pursuing entrepreneurism and emerging as leaders – all qualities that Endowed Dean’s Chair Daniel J. Robison speaks about that define the CALS student experience.

I invite you to reach out to those who made your student experience so special here. Let me know if I can help connect you. I’d love to hear what helped you create your own CALS advantage – share your stories with me at or post on social media using #CALSstories and I’ll compile online to share.

Please make plans to join us at our annual CALS Cyclone Women’s Basketball pregame party on Feb. 8, 2020. We’ll be sharing stories, reconnecting and cheering on the Cyclones. Watch your inboxes and STORIES Online e-newsletter for details.

Warm wishes from central campus,

Melea Reicks Licht