From the Dean | Faculty and Staff | Washington State University

From the Dean

Welcome and Welcome Back!

Welcome, Cougs and new Cougs, to an exciting new academic year at WSU!

Our campuses are reinvigorated with the energy of many thousands of students settling in and beginning classes, and we are looking forward to working with you in support of your personal and academic goals.

As students, you are the reason we are here and we would like to partner with you as we continue to raise WSU’s stature as a preeminent public university.

CAHNRS is an exciting college to be part of–we span an amazing variety of disciplines in our 12 departments and schools, with over 60 undergraduate majors, minors, certificates, and specializations, on multiple campuses. We teach and do research across a wide spectrum, from beans (integrated plant sciences; school of food science), bugs (entomology; school of the environment), and bulls (animal sciences), to people (human development; school of economic sciences) and plaids (apparel, merchandizing and textile design). Whether you are interested in a career indoors or out of doors, it is likely that you will find something in CAHNRS that will fit you well!

While we are a large college, we also take great pride in being a personal and personable one, with an inviting, supportive, and friendly community approach to all that we do. We want to work with you to help you succeed.

I suggest that you consider taking advantage of the opportunities for experiential learning and internships through our Academic Programs Office and the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership. CAHNRS prides itself on providing a gateway to internships, leadership training, mentoring, and more to support you in being successful in your chosen career, from day one.

We invite you to celebrate this new school year with us at our annual Fall Festival on Thursday, September 14, 4-6 p.m., in Spillman Plaza between Johnson and Hulbert Halls. We’ll have great free food, games, and fun. Watch for more details soon on our CAHNRS Facebook page.

We in CAHNRS are here to help you grow, learn, and succeed in this ever-changing world. We are very glad to have you join us as we continue to practice our leadership in education, research, and world-class academics.

Welcome, welcome back, and Go Cougs!

Ron C. Mittelhammer
Dean of CAHNRS

Message to All of CAHNRS

Dear CAHNRS Faculty and Staff Colleagues:

June 13th was my first official day back, full-time, in the CAHNRS Dean’s office after having served almost a year as one of two Co-Provosts at WSU. I must admit that I am very pleased to be back in the college where I began my academic career, and a college that I truly love being part of. I experienced and learned a great many things during my time in the Provost Office, and I believe that many of the university-wide perspectives I gained in that role will enhance my ability to serve our college in positive ways moving forward. It also underscored my conviction about something I had already known and appreciated — that I am, and we are, very fortunate to be part of a college at WSU that is so successful, and that has such monumental impact, quality, scope, and depth.

The past 11 months was a difficult and challenging time, and in terms of impacts on colleges caused by changing administrative roles to provide leadership support to the university, there was not much argument in expecting that CAHNRS would have been the most impacted of the WSU colleges. But due to the extraordinary and effective leadership provided by Acting Dean Kim Kidwell, Associate Deans Rich Koenig and Jim Moyer, the CAHNRS administrative staff, together with your dedication, efforts, and support, the college not only continued to operate in a stable and productive manner, it also managed to continue to advance important strategic goals and initiatives. I am deeply thankful to Kim, Rich and Jim, and all of you, for ensuring that we met the challenges and succeeded in dealing with them — the most expansive and complex college at Washington State University not only maintained its effectiveness in achieving its mission, but continued to successfully advance its aspirational strategic goals.

There will be some continuing as well as some new challenges facing the college and university as we move forward into the next academic year and beyond. One of the higher priority issues will be the need for the university to address some budgetary concerns, of which I am sure you are aware given President Schulz’s message to the university community issued last week. We are a strong college, and a strong university, and we will address them and be successful as we always invariably have been. Rest assured that I will engage you in transparent communication and dialog about any issues and initiatives if/when they become relevant and it is prudent to do so.

I will close this first message since returning to the college by reiterating that I am indeed very glad to be back, I am deeply thankful for and proud of all of your accomplishments during these past 11 months, and I pledge to you that I will dedicate myself to working hard and well in support of you and the college, and in so doing, hope that you will also be equally as glad that I am back for a while.

Best Regards to All,
Ron Mittelhammer (’78)
Regents Professor

Interim Co – Provost

Good morning,

As you may have heard, Friday was a day of announcements that have a direct and significant impact on CAHNRS and WSU leadership. I was named interim co-provost for WSU, and I subsequently named Kim Kidwell as the acting dean for CAHNRS.

Rest assured that the CAHNRS leadership team is perfectly well-suited to handle this unusual situation. Dr. Kidwell has my utmost confidence, and she has real-time on-the-job dean experience to provide strong leadership of CAHNRS in my absence. Moreover, she will have the unwavering support of our highly skilled and effective associate deans, Rich Koenig and Jim Moyer. You will recall that this is the same impactful leadership team, with Dr. Kidwell at the helm that led CAHNRS while I was away with a medical issue last winter, and this team functioned spectacularly well. It will be a smooth transition — the college is in excellent hands.

The leadership style will be almost exactly as it was last winter, the one difference being that I will actually be available to answer questions, or provide perspectives/opinions about matters, from the very start – if/when such input is sought by Kim. That said, I want to underscore that Kim will be acting in the capacity of the dean of CAHNRS for all issues of any consequence to the faculty, staff, and students of CAHNRS, and henceforth any matters that are destined for consideration by, or requiring decisions by the CAHNRS dean will now be directed to her. The only “dean responsibilities” that I will retain involve completion of some continuing issues that are in need of closure and that for the sake of efficiency make sense for me to handle, as well as a few auxiliary duties of the dean that are not central to the day-to-day operation of CAHNRS.

Kim has assured me that she intends to continue to implement the “flat model” of leadership that we have been routinely practicing in CAHNRS, whereby the dean and associate deans oversee the college as a collaborative and consensus-seeking executive team in analyzing issues and making decisions. In that model, the dean (Kim) acts in the capacity of “chairperson of the board”, and collaborative support and insights are provided by “board members” Rich and Jim. And of course CAHNRS will still be supported by our magnificent finance, operations, communications, computer, and HR support units.

In fact, the high quality and effectiveness of this CAHNRS leadership team played a significant role in the current temporary change, as Interim President Dan Bernardo wrote in his announcement last week. He praised the team’s ability to manage the college successfully in a stressful time without me.

Please note that these temporary changes are planned to end when a permanent replacement is found for the late WSU President Elson Floyd. While the timeline is uncertain, the current expectation is that the horizon will span 6 – 9 months.

I expect the current forward trajectory that has been established for the college to continue, and we have the leadership stability and experience to keep CAHNRS moving forward.

Please direct any issues that might require the dean’s attention during this interim period to Kim ( and to Lisa Johnson (

Thank you for your support, and for the dedication, effort, and contributions you make to ensure the future success of CAHNRS, and of WSU.

Ron Mittelhammer
Interim Co-Provost
Regents Professor

Leadership of the Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center

I have some important information to share with you related to the Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center (NWREC).

As of May 1, 2015, Dr. Steve Jones relinquished his responsibilities as director of the NWREC. The rationale for this change arose following several productive discussions, during which it became evident that Steve enthusiastically wants to pursue additional research, education, and outreach activities for the successful and growing Bread Lab. Dr. Jones has now assumed his new responsibilities as Director of the NWREC Bread Lab.

Dr. Debra Inglis, professor and extension plant pathologist, has agreed to assume the role of interim director of the center. At Debra’s request, her appointment will span no more than three months as we seek to expeditiously hire a new director for the NWREC.

We will keep you abreast of developments at the center and about the future of the directorship as they take shape. While transitions require extra effort for everyone involved, we are excited by the possibilities that this change brings to both the Bread Lab, and the NWREC.

Thank you,

Ron Mittelhammer
Regents Professor


Ron Mittelhammer Dean
Ron Mittelhammer