By Clint Thompson
Effective July 1, the University of Georgia (UGA) College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) will have a familiar face to serve as interim dean.
Joe West, who recently retired as assistant dean from the UGA Tifton campus, just hopes he can be a stabilizing influence during a time of uncertainty in the Ag industry in Georgia.
“People know me. I’m fortunate enough over my career that I’ve been in several different jobs and worked in Athens, so I know a lot of the key folks at the University of Georgia,” West said. “Already having that network of University of Georgia leadership and having their support is important. Talking with the leadership in Ag. We’ve got so much uncertainty in our industry. It’s really, really suffering right now. We as a college need to figure out what’s our role, what we can do to try to help this industry and help our farmers.”
West will take over for Sam Pardue, who will retire June 30. West has also agreed to work half time in May and June in preparing for his new role.
Georgia’s state colleges and universities have been impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. All have moved to online instruction for the rest of the semester. But West said research remains a priority and will continue to be under stricter guidelines.
“Social distancing and things like that, we’re certainly observing,” West said. “As I understand it, our vice president for research, David Lee, has been, to the extent he can in keeping our people safe, he’s been very helpful in letting our field people get their research plots in. He’s come to understand how important timing is and that if we don’t get a crop in by a certain time, it’s a loss for us from a research standpoint. We’re not totally shut down. We’re getting some research in the fields, and again, ensuring that our people are safe. You can be in a tractor by yourself and be socially isolated.”
UGA CAES coordinates research on three experiment stations and eight research and education centers throughout the state on various crops, including fruit and vegetables.
For more information, see UGA CAES Newswire.