Following an extensive, nationwide search, Utah State University announced Wednesday, May 29, that it has named professor and department head Kenneth L. White, to a three-part position that will make him dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, vice president of Extension and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
White is well respected both for teaching and research excellence throughout his career at USU. He currently is head of USU’s Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences and associate dean of university’s new School of Veterinary Medicine.
“We are all honored that Dr. White has accepted this assignment,” said USU President Stan L. Albrecht. “These are three extremely critical positions at the university, and it is a rare individual who has the breadth of skills to accomplish all these tasks. We are lucky to have that exceptional individual already here on campus. Dr. White is a proven talent, and it gives me great pleasure to make this announcement.”
White said he looks forward to the opportunity this appointment presents, and he thanked the president, the search committee and other faculty and staff for having confidence in him
“We have excellent programs already in place and tremendous opportunities to grow those and other programs,” White said. “I’m also excited to work with exceptional people — people I already know — both in the college itself and in the state. I recognize that I have huge shoes to fill, but the units are in extremely good health, and I look forward to the challenge.”
Search committee chair Mark McLellan, USU’s vice president for research and dean of the School of Graduate Studies, said White was selected from among many of the top agriculturalists in the nation after the committee narrowed the list of finalists to three from among the more than 100 contacted. White stood out for his science and teaching skills, for his capacity to manage complex programs and for his ability to work with many different groups.
“Ken is a balanced leader with an exceptionally warm personality yet a drive for excellence that points to an exciting future for the college, the experiment station and the Extension system of the state,” McLellan said.
McLellan said the three-part job is a massive undertaking that requires skills to integrate the teaching, research and outreach missions of the university in a way that promotes acquiring new knowledge, training students and full commitment to translating research to the benefit of the citizens of this state, the nation and the world. Intrinsic to the nature of the job is the need to work with very diverse clientele, faculty with many different focus areas and Extension specialists and agents with very wide-ranging mission areas.
“We on the committee are confident Dr. White has the background, skill sets and personality to hold this family together,” McLellan said.
White’s will replace Noelle Cockett, who steps down from the position to become USU’s executive vice president and provost July 1.
Cockett said White brings proven administrative skills to the new position, and she has no doubts that he will excel. He has shown exceptional abilities as a teacher, researcher and department head, and he has worked successfully with both internal and important external stakeholders in all three domains of the new appointment.
“And it’s not just that he ‘knows this place,’” Cockett said. “We are looking both at what’s right for USU right now and where we want to go next, and I have complete confidence that Ken can lead us forward through those next challenges.”
White came to USU in 1991 as an associate professor. He received his bachelor of science in animal science at Brigham Young University in 1979. He earned a master of science in animal science at University of California, Davis in 1982 and a Ph.D. in physiology (with an immunology minor) at University of California, Davis in 1986.
While at USU, White has been associate director of research at the Center for Integrated BioSystems, director of the Center for Developmental and Molecular Biology, and is currently interim director of the Center for Integrated BioSystems.
He has received numerous prestigious awards while at USU, including University Outstanding Graduate Mentor for 2011; LeGrande Shupe Achievement Award, College of Agriculture, 2011; Graduate Mentor of the Year for the College of Agriculture, 2010; Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year, College of Agriculture, 2007; and Researcher of the Year, College of Agriculture, 2006.
He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed scientific articles, and he also published six book chapters and 94 other scientific publications.
He received the first Utah Best of State Statue (BOSS) Award in agriculture in recognition for his leadership role in embryonic nuclear transfer research, which resulted in the first, live equine clone ever produced in the world. As an independent researcher, he generated more than $15 million in extramural funding in his career, nearly $11.5 million at USU. He has received or has pending five patents.
Writer: Lynnette Harris, 435-797-2189, Lynnette.Harris@usu.edu