The University announced at the end of last month that Susan Henry, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will step down from her position at the end of this upcoming academic year. Henry, who has spent nine years at the helm of Cornell’s second largest college, will devote more time to teaching and research in her current appointment as professor of molecular biology and genetics.
During Henry’s tenure, the dean oversaw the creation of the department of applied economics and management, the creation of a teaching winery, and the large-scale renovation of Mann Library, according to the University. She also sat on the State Council on Food Policy under Gov. David Paterson (D) and the Agricultural Advisory Council under former Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).
In the interim, Provost Kent Fuchs has put together a search committee to select the next CALS dean. Vice Provost for Land Grant Affairs Ron Seeber will lead the search.
The next leader of CALS will likely face a number of looming challenges, as the college was one of the hardest hit by the recession. Over the past year, Cornell has lost at least $6 million in state funding for its land grant colleges, of which CALS absorbed nearly $3 million. In order to meet the University’s mandated college-by-college 5-percent budget reduction, CALS had to trim an additional $4 million from its budget.
Though the college has reduced its number of faculty by about 70 people over the past 30 or so years, the University is looking to cut about 30-40 more professors through attrition. In a letter from Henry to all CALS department and unit heads earlier in the summer, the dean expressed that this likely means a reduction in the number of departments from 26 to between 14 and 16, according to the blog Metaezra.