Davis College of Agriculture, Design secures new dean
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 08:01
Daniel J. Robison, associate dean for research and professor of forestry and environmental resources at North Carolina State University, has been named dean of the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design at West Virginia University.
Robison said he was inspired to apply for the dean position after experiencing the uniqueness of Davis College's programs.
"WVU and the Davis College have a fantastic set of programs. It seems the combination of agriculture, natural resources and design gives the Davis College a nationwide, unique perspective of study and research," he said. "I saw those things, and I said ‘I'd like to apply there, and see if it's a good fit.'"
A search committee headed by Robert Jones, dean of WVU's Eberly College, selected Robison for the prestigious position from a pool of applicants who visited WVU in November and December.
Rudy Almasy has been serving as the interim dean in Davis College since July 2011. Robison will formally replace Almasy as dean May 31.
Although leadership is an important part of a dean's responsibilities, Robison said his focus was on the students and faculty.
"Leadership does matter, but only if the people in the organization are part of the process. The important thing at a university is to bring faculty and students to work together," he said.
Robison said he is enthusiastic about participating in ongoing and future projects at the Davis College.
"It's less about what I bring directly to the school and more about what ideas we can generate together once I get there," he said.
Robison said his perspective is influenced by the work of Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and the chairwoman of a commission that coined the term "sustainable development" in the late 1980s.
"She called the next generation of thinkers and doers the ‘innovation generation,'" he said. "Coming to the Davis College, it would be my goal working with the folks there to provide a place where students at the Davis College, and WVU will begin to feel the opportunity and responsibility of being the innovation generation."
Robison said WVU's focus on sustainability gives students unique opportunities to research and improve environmental innovation.
"This world of ours has tremendous advantages and challenges, and students at the Davis College are perfectly aligned to solve the great challenges of our time with innovation, discovery and the energy of ideas," he said.
"I think that's the ultimate measure of a university's success – does its students, as graduates, feel enabled and inspired to do good things?" he said.
While at NCSU College of Natural Resources, Robison has been recognized as a professor, director of several research programs and initiatives, and of extension and outreach activities with other universities, including University of Alaska-Fairbanks and East Carolina University.
He has also published several articles on forest science, secured millions of dollars for research funding and participated in overseas graduate student mentoring.
Robison has studied at locations across the world, including Israel, South Africa and Myanmar. He lived in West Africa for two years, working in conjunction with the West African Rice Development Association.
He earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in forestry at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. He earned a doctoral degree in entomology from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Robison, his wife Julie, and his daughters Sophia and Hannah will visit Morgantown and WVU in the coming months to meet faculty and make living arrangements.