From the Dean – Fall 2020

Dear alumni and friends,

This has been an incredible year — one of tremendous achievement in teaching, research and extension amid a global pandemic, civic stress, drought and wind here in Iowa and the recent election.

All this in addition to the ever-present ups-and-downs in the worlds of agriculture, food, natural resources, health, trade, economics and technology.

Our faculty, staff and students continue to innovate to overcome the challenges we face. Through it all, we remain dedicated to the land-grant mission to improve the world around us through access and service. We have in fact been in Theodore Roosevelt’s “arena,” as this college always has — striving to achieve and working to help diverse people and landscapes thrive.

In this issue you’ll read about innovative research to bolster the battle against COVID-19. You’ll meet exceptional students who overcame an unpredictable semester and found ways to excel in the midst of adversity. There are stories of faculty and staff committed to providing the best possible experience for their students and advancing science through their discoveries and its application to practice. Every day we are working to breathe life into the CALS Advantage — advocating for what’s important; innovating with an entrepreneurial mindset; grounding oneself in a discipline; and leading.

Due to COVID-19 mitigation, we haven’t been able to gather as a college community as we would have liked. We missed hosting you at the annual CALS BBQ, Homecoming, convocation and commencement. We will work to find new ways to connect. Your input and involvement are important to me, and your feedback is always welcome.

It also has been a year of steadfastness, change and advancement in the college — including continued excellence in leadership among new associate deans, chairs and unit directors, as well as retirements and new hiring. See our news from campus section on page 32 for details.

We are nearing the end of a multi-year fundraising campaign. With slightly more than $200 million raised toward our college goal of $230 million (of the university overall goal of $1.5 billion) we are working hard to close the gap by June 2021. The generosity and commitment of so many is remarkable!

Our ability to globally engage, to academically innovate, to do extraordinary research, and extension and outreach, and to be entrepreneurial — is all enabled by the support of each of you, and the fine work of our extraordinary faculty, staff and students.

We thank you for your continued support of and connection to the college. Together we can rise to meet the challenges of the coming year, find ways to improve the human condition, and as always, be better than ever.

Daniel J. Robison

Endowed Dean’s Chair, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,