As part of a move to streamline administration of the agricultural enterprise at NDSU, the role of vice president for agriculture will be consolidated into the existing position of dean of the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources and director of North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.
The decision was announced today, after extensive consideration of national best practices and in consultation with a variety of state agricultural leaders. NDSU Provost Bruce Rafert worked with an advisory committee composed of leaders in agriculture inside and outside the university.
“We examined the way other leading land grants structure these roles, seeking optimal communication, efficiency and lack of duplication across a very broad set of duties,” Rafert said. The group unanimously recommended merging the duties of the vice president with those of the dean and director, a model similar to the structure at many other land-grant institutions. “I appreciated the thoughtful participation of the advisory group. They worked hard to investigate many alternatives,” Rafert said. Faculty senate and Advance Forward leadership also were consulted.
Rafert also noted the decision is a return to a similar structure in the past at NDSU when the vice president, dean and director responsibilities were combined. “I am pleased that the group suggested this structure to more efficiently and cost effectively lead our contributions to agriculture in North Dakota,” Rafert said, “NDSU uniquely combines a commitment to students, our land-grant heritage and to the value of research in North Dakota, and this merger will further strengthen our delivery on all three of those important areas.”
The vice president role formerly was held by D.C. Coston, who in August left NDSU to become the interim President of Dickinson State University. As a result, Ken Grafton, who was dean and director, was named interim vice president. Grafton has led agriculture to a number of successes, including improving and enhancing infrastructure, developing and implementing state-wide strategic initiatives, and hiring and promoting women – including the first two female departmental leaders in the college’s history.
Grafton earned his doctorate in 1980 from the University of Missouri. He has been with NDSU since 1980, on the faculty of the Department of Plant Sciences, and also has served as associate dean of the Graduate School. He became director of the Experiment Station in 2002 and dean of the college in 2005.
Rodney Howe, one of the members of the advisory committee and chair of the State Board of Agricultural Research and Extension, endorsed the structure. “Dr. Grafton is an exceptional leader, a person of the highest integrity and a national expert in his field. I’m delighted Ken has agreed to accept the additional duties. I am confident that he and NDSU will continue to enhance agriculture in North Dakota.”