UW Biological Sciences Building

Sun light hitting the University of Wyoming Biological Sciences building reflects onto the north side of Old Main on the UW campus. The university is current conducting searches for two deans. Laramie Boomerang photo

LARAMIE – Almost two years after the University of Wyoming’s College of Health Sciences lost its dean, the university still isn’t close to hiring a permanent replacement, one of UW’s trustees said.

At last week’s board meeting, trustee Wava Tully said the search committee continues to suffer from a shortage of candidates, and the candidates who are interested often have “a lack of expertise.”

That search committee is headed by Provost Kate Miller and College of Education Dean Ray Reutzel.

The prospects of the nationwide search have grown dim enough, Tully said, that UW leaders now plan to turn inward, with plans to “mine out candidates” from within the university.

Tully said that will likely mean reaching out to department heads and others to gauge their interest in the job.

Former dean Joe Steiner retired in July 2017 after accepting voluntary separation incentives.

Since then, the college has been helmed on an interim basis by professor David Jones.

The university originally announced in April 2017 it would conduct a nationwide search to replace Steiner, who took over the position in 2009.

In April, two finalists for the position visited campus and gave public presentations.

Those candidates were Stanley Brown, head of the Department of Kinesiology at Mississippi State University, and Russell Mumper, vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Georgia.

Board of Trustees member Michelle Sullivan said at September’s board meeting the search committee selected a finalist.

However, upper level management, and not the search committee, chose not to hire the finalist.

Meaning, the university is getting closer to hiring a dean for the College of Agriculture.

On Friday, the university announced three finalists for the position, all of whom will visit the university this month.

The first candidate, Barbara Rasco, will participate in a public forum at 2:10 p.m. today on campus. Rasco is a professor and director of the School of Food Science at the joint Washington State University/University of Idaho School of Food Science.

The second candidate is Jeffrey Dean, a professor and head of the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University. His public forum will be hosted at 3:30 p.m. April 11.

The final candidate is J.D. Wulfhorst, a professor and director of the Environmental Science Program at the University of Idaho. His presentation will be hosted at 2:10 p.m. April 17.

All three forums will be hosted in the Agriculture Building’s Auditorium and will be live-streamed through the WyoCast system.

Tully said university leaders have expressed enthusiasm about the candidates.

Another search has now also been ongoing for a year. Former College of Agriculture Dean Francis Galey left UW in June to become provost at Utah State University.

Bret Hess served as interim dean until February, when emeritus professor Mark Stayton was coaxed out of retirement to serve as dean until a permanent dean is hired.

Stayton served as head of the Department of Molecular Biology from 2007-2015 and was interim associate dean/director of academic and student programs in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources from 2015-2017.

“After much arm twisting, I’ve been able to convince him to return to the college to help in the transition,” Miller told the trustees last week. “Mark’s been doing a great job … in helping with that transition and I’m very grateful for his service.”

For more news from the Laramie Boomerang, visit https://www.laramieboomerang.com/.

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