Happy Holidays from Dr. Killefer

Let It Snow?  Let It Snow?  Let It Snow?

It is that time of year again when we have the occasion to reflect upon the many happenings of the past year and to think about the opportunities that the upcoming year will present us.  Well it did snow and snow and snow here in Corvallis!  I am told that this is the most snow in two decades, and it stayed around for over a week because of the unusual cold snap that accompanied all the snow.  Finals week was very interesting with the closure of campus and all the rescheduling of examinations that had to occur.  Despite all the efforts of Mother Nature, the students, faculty, staff and administration helped complete this recent Finals Week with minimal confusion and distress.  It has been an exciting time within the Department – where there has been no shortage of change and growth.

In academic year 2013, we had the very first graduates from the Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences.  We are now officially the Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences with approximately 500 undergraduate majors (largest program on campus for the College of Agricultural Sciences), approximately 60 majors in our program at the Eastern Oregon University campus, and 25 graduate students.  During this past year we had a bumper crop of eleven graduate students complete their programs.  We are proud of them and we wish them all the very best in their continuing education or new careers!  Our academic offerings continue to grow in response to our growing undergraduate numbers (both majors and non-majors taking AnRS courses) and with the addition of new faculty members to the Department.  We have added new courses both on campus and through the online Ecampus program at OSU.  Many of our Ecampus courses are capturing the interest of both majors and non-majors alike, on campus and around the country!

We have had several faculty/staff members leave our ranks this past year through retirements or other career opportunities.  Dr. Douglas Johnson (Professor of Rangeland Ecology and Management) retired after 31 years of joyous service!  He will continue to provide expert advice and wisdom through his Emeritus Professor appointment.  Dr. Aurora Villarroel resigned her position in January to take a job with Merck Animal Health as Global Director of Technical Services in Dairy & Udder Health.  Helen Chesbrough (Office Specialist) retired this Spring after approximately 28 years with us.  She will always be remembered as the friendly voice welcoming you to the Department.  Gabrielle Thompson (Accountant) retired after 30 years keeping track of our finances and helping us manage purchasing and budget questions.  Gabrielle was housed within the Department and more recently within the Agricultural Sciences and Marine Sciences Business Center (AMBC).  Ben Krahn (Dairy Manager), Travis Way (Dairy Herdsman), Tom Nichols (Sheep Center Manager), and Dawn Ross (Horse Center Manager) left our program this year to pursue other job opportunities.  We thank this wonderful group of faculty and staff for the hard work and dedication throughout their careers and wish them all the very best in this new phase of their lives!

In contrast to the numerous folks that have left our day-to-day OSU family, we have a number of new faces amongst our group.  We welcome Dr. Monique Udell to our faculty as an Assistant Professor specializing in the area of Human-Animal Bond.  Dr. Udell adds a new dimension to our program and her teaching/research areas are proving to be of great interest to our students.  Dr. Carlos Ochoa joined our faculty as an Assistant Professor specializing in the Riparian-Watershed field.  Carlos is already proving to be a tremendous addition to our teaching and research efforts in hydrology and watershed management.  We also welcome Dr. Lesley Morris to our faculty as an Assistant Professor in Rangeland Ecology and Management specializing in the current impacts of historical land use practices.  Dr. Morris is located on the Eastern Oregon University campus in La Grande.  In addition to these tenure track faculty members, we also welcomed Pat Shaver and Adrienne Lulay as instructors to the Department.  Pat and Adrienne bring a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm to our programs.  All of these faculty members will add strength and dimension to our curriculum and research portfolios.  We welcomed Megan McVicker as the new Barn Manager at the OSU Horse Center and look forward to benefiting from her equine knowledge and experience.  We also welcomed Remington Pike as the new manager of the Soap and Berry Creek Ranches.  Remington has been a long time worker at the ranches and has already made significant improvements to the herd and facilities.  This past Fall we welcomed Kari Henschel back to our group as our new Accountant in the AMBC.  Kari has a long history with the Department and we are excited to have her back amongst our happy family.

This year we continue to see major construction activities at the corner of 35th and Campus Way, where the old sheep barn and wool lab used to be located.  The new James E. Oldfield Animal Teaching Facility (OATF) was completed and just finished its first year as an outstanding teaching facility for the Department.  The OATF represents the first of four new buildings that are part of what are referred to as the Animal Sciences Pavilion Complex.  The Hogg Animal Metabolism Barn (HAMB) broke ground this Fall and we anticipate completion of construction this coming June/July.  The HAMB facility will be an outstanding animal research unit that will accommodate studies ranging from replicated small pen cattle trials to intensive individual animal studies.  This new research facility will be a  tremendous complement to the teaching resources provided by the OATF.  The next two buildings should be breaking ground this upcoming year and will further support the teaching and research missions of the Department and College.  The third building will be a multi-purpose facility that supports the farm services activities of the Department, the teaching activities of the Department of Agricultural Education and Agricultural Sciences, and provide a new data center for the OSU IT infrastructure.  The fourth building will serve as a commodity and composting facility for our activities.  In addition to the construction occurring along Campus Way, we are also renovating four laboratories and associated offices in Weiniger Hall.  Although in a building outside of Withycombe Hall, these will be the nicest, most modern laboratories in the Department.  We look forward to these being completed in early 2014.  The addition of these new facilities for teaching and research coincides with significant increases in undergraduate enrollments and the evolution of our research programs.  Please stop by and take a look the next time you are on campus.

Looking back on 2013 and forward to 2014, there is the reality of much change accompanied with a sense of excitement and anticipation as we face the New Year.  We all look forward to a year filled with many successes and accomplishments.  I hope that each of you is blessed with a Holiday Season that is filled with joy and a sense of fulfillment.  Please stop by when you are on campus, send an email, or give me a call.  I would appreciate the opportunity to say hello.

Wishing you all the best in 2014!

John Killefer