UMD in search of successor for Wei

Managing Editor

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Oct. 14, 2014) — A search committee has been formed to find a replacement for Dr. Cheng-i Wei, dean of the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and director of its Extension service. Wei’s second term as dean ends June 30, 2015.
In an Oct. 3 memo to “faculty, staff, students and friends,” UM Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin announced the names of the 17-member search committee made up of university and AGNR staff and industry partners and offered praise for Wei’s work at the college.
“During his tenure as dean, great progress has been made in university Extension programs, understanding and addressing the causes of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, and the development of world-class research programs in nutrition, human health, animal diseases, biotechnology, and agricultural economics,” Rankin said.
According to an official in the provost’s office, it is customary with few exceptions for deans within the university to not serve more than two five-year terms.
“It’s been tradition at the university that deans serve only two terms,” Steve Fetter said, associate provost for academic affairs last week.
A request for comment from Wei was referred to the provost office.
Leading the search committee is Dr. Jayanth Banavar, dean of the university’s College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences. Korn Ferry, an international executive search firm, is assisting in the search process, Rankin said in the memo. Committee members from outside the university include Bob Frazee, CEO of Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit and Emily Wilson, director of land acquisition and planning at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Wei became dean of AGNR college on Sept. 1, 2005.
Prior to coming to Maryland he held high-level posts at Oklahoma State University, Auburn University and the University of Florida.
As a researcher, Wei’s interests are in food microbiology and safety, toxicology, and immunotoxicology.
During Wei’s tenure, AGNR enrollment increased each year from 916 undergraduates in 2005 to 1,172 in 2013; the average yearly amount of competitive grant funding awarded to the college increased from $19 million to more than $34 million in a ten year span.
Wei oversaw the creation of the Center for Food Safety and Security Systems in 2006, the college’s Department of Environmental Science & Technology in 2006 and the Agricultural Law Education Initiative in 2011.
This fall, the college launched Agriculture Forward at Maryland, an access program for students in the two-year Institute of Applied Agriculture who want to pursue a four-year degree from the College of AGNR.