Both the Dean and Executive Associate Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis have abruptly resigned. The action followed a decision by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to replace Dean Neal Van Alfen two years before the end of his current term.
In a Dear Colleagues letter Van Alfen wrote, "With great reluctance I am resigning as dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Chancellor Katehi informed me that it is her plan to start the search to replace me as dean two years before the end of my current term rather than waiting until the final year, as is the normal practice. The chancellor requested that I serve until a replacement is found, but given her decision to replace me before the end of my term, I feel I must resign."
The Executive Associate Dean James D. MacDonald responded, "I write to inform you that I have just notified Chancellor Katehi and Provost Hexter that I am resigning as the Executive Associate Dean of the college, effective 5:00 PM, Friday, August 31. As you know, our campus leaders have decided to bring an early end to Neal Van Alfen's term as dean. While that is their right, it is an administrative decision that I do not and cannot support. Because I cannot support this decision by the campus leadership, I believe that the proper course of action for me is to step down from my administrative post."
An official statement was released by Ralph Hexter, UC Davis Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor saying, "Chancellor Katehi and I were notified by Neal Van Alfen that he has elected to resign as dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
"Dean Van Alfen, who has served admirably in that capacity for more than 13 years, has committed to work toward a smooth transition as we take steps to name an interim dean as quickly as possible.
"Under Neal's leadership, reorganization strengthened the college's core departments; two major academic buildings and numerous smaller research facilities were added to campus; and funds were raised to create 14 new endowed chairs and faculty.
"These investments, coupled with the outstanding work of college faculty, have established UC Davis as a global leader in sustainability and related disciplines.
"In short, Neal leaves CA&ES well poised for further excellence. The college, our oldest, is critical to our core mission and identity as a leading public research university making singular contributions to our state, our nation and the world."
Dean Michael Lairmore of the School of Veterinary Medicine will chair the Recruitment Advisory Committee to identify a permanent dean.