Prof. William E. Fry Ph.D. ’70, plant pathology, was named the senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) last Friday.
Fry, who will officially take over the position on June 1, said he is “looking forward to seeing the college from a different perspective.”
He will succeed Prof. Brian L. Chabot, ecology and evolutionary biology. Chabot plans to continue his research in ecology and looks forward to teaching again.
The selection process involved the entire CALS faculty, as every member was asked to nominate candidates for the position. A selection committee, headed by Prof. Thomas Lyson, rural sociology, met for several months to prepare a final list of candidates for CALS Dean Susan A. Henry.
In considering what particular attributes Fry brings to the senior associate dean position, Henry said, “Prof. Fry really understands the mission of our college in the fields of research, teaching, as well as extension. He has been at Cornell for his entire career and he was really recommended by everyone.”
Henry also emphasized how dedicated Fry is to his teaching and his students, adding “Professor Fry wouldn’t accept the position until he was sure he would be able to continue his courses this semester.”
Fry envisions his position as a resource for CALS faculty.
“I am interested in facilitating the faculty in finding solutions to the challenges that the college faces,” he said.
Fry also explained his mission for the college.
“In terms of the environment and the revolutions in the field of biology, the Ag school is already well in the position of a leader and I would like to help this continue.”
However, the position of senior associate dean does not come without some major challenges for Fry.
“The very big challenge is the state of the facilities in our college,” Chabot said. “We are seeing huge expansions in the field of research and the spaces are just inadequate.”
Chabot also indicated that a second challenge for Fry as he assumes his post will be “managing the salary improvement program for faculty and staff.”
The displeasure with the condition of the agriculture college’s facilities has also been echoed by students. Ariel Defazio ’03, a CALS ambassador, said, “As a natural resources major, I have classes in Fernow Hall — and it’s pretty bad. I hope that the buildings in the Ag school will improve.”
Henry voiced her concern about the buildings, too, pointing to their improvement as a top priority for Fry and the entire college.
“We are ranked very highly as a college and I think that we deserve this reputation intellectually, but sometimes facilities are not up to the standards of a university like Cornell,” Henry said, adding that improvements need to be made in order to “increase the reputation of all the college’s programs.”
Fry also mentioned the CALS facilities as a huge issue for him as he takes his post, noting that many of the buildings are “in really tough shape.”
After assuming the position of senior associate dean, Fry will have to forego teaching. He will, however, continue his research on Phytophthora infestans, the pathogen responsible for the historic potato famine in Ireland.
Fry graduated with high honors from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1966 with a bachelors degree in chemistry. He went on to receive his doctorate in plant pathology from Cornell in 1970. Fry joined the Cornell faculty in 1971 as an assistant professor in plant pathology, becoming an associate professor in 1977 and a full professor in 1984. From 1981 to 1995, he was also the chair of the plant pathology department.
Archived article by Leigh McMullan