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Search committee announces final candidates for dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


BLACKSBURG, Va., May 13, 2009 – The search committee for the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, chaired by Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee, announces three final candidates selected from a deep applicant pool.

Each candidate will visit the Blacksburg campus for two days and meet in Richmond with external stakeholders at the Virginia Farm Bureau headquarters. An open forum will be held at each location.

Editor's note: The location for the June 4 open forum for Linton (listed below) has been moved to the Assembly Auditorium in Alumni Hall at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.

Alan Grant serves as department head of Animal Sciences at Purdue University where he is recognized as a University Faculty Scholar. He has received several teaching awards, including the Teaching for Tomorrow Award, an enrichment program for recognizing and fostering teaching.

He received his Ph.D. and M.S. from Michigan State University in animal science and his B.S. in animal science is from Cornell University.

Recent capital projects in his department have included a $2.3 million swine environmental research building, $600,000 Ossabaw swine facility, major investments in manure management systems at the Purdue Research and Education Center, and several research laboratory renovations.

Grant’s research focuses on the study of animal growth that leads to strategies for increasing the efficiency of lean meat production and utilization.

Grant is a strong advocate of regionalization and multi-state activities to support land-grant missions. He provides leadership to the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence and is on the board of a new Midwest Dairy Consortium.

  • Grant will be on campus May 25 to 27 and in Richmond May 28 and 29. His open forum in Blacksburg is Tuesday, May 26 from 2:30 p.m.to 3:30 p.m. with a reception following (VBI Auditorium). His open forum in Richmond is Thursday, May 28, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a reception following (Virginia Farm Bureau Auditorium).


Sarahelen Thompson currently serves as the director of the Market and Trade Economics Division at the USDA-Economic Research Service and she is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University.

She has a Ph.D. from Stanford University and her M.S. and B.A. are from the University of Minnesota.

She served as department head of Agricultural Economics at Purdue from 2002 to 2008. In 2005, the department received commendation from the USDA, CSREES external review team for its significant accomplishments in graduate education and Extension.

Her work at USDA involves developing a set of projects that will address policy issues facing the new administration and external stakeholders in the coming years in the areas of agricultural markets and trade. The present foci are biofuels, energy markets, food security and safety, domestic and international agricultural trade policies, and other areas such as futures markets, labeling policies and the public and private regulation of agricultural markets.

  • Thompson will be on campus June 1 to 3 and in Richmond June 4 and 5. Her open forum in Blacksburg is Tuesday, June 2 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a reception following (VBI Auditorium). Her open forum in Richmond is Thursday, June 4, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a reception following (Virginia Farm Bureau Auditorium).


Richard Linton currently serves as the associate director of Competitive and Integrated Programs, Agriculture Research Programs at Purdue University where he is also a University Faculty Scholar, professor in the Department of Food Science, and the director of the Center for Food Safety Engineering.

He received his B.S. in biology, and his M.S and Ph.D. in food science from Virginia Tech.

He led the creation of the center and it currently involves five colleges at Purdue, more than 85 faculty, staff, and students, and has received over $25 million in grant funding. In 2006, he received the Myron Solberg Award with the Institute of Food Technologists for Worldwide Excellence for Collaboration among Academic, Industry, and Regulatory.

He currently serves on the executive board for the National Alliance for Food Safety and Security. Linton was recognized in the Purdue School of Agriculture Millionaires Club in 2006, 2007, and 2008 and has received numerous commendations for grantsmanship. He has nationally recognized Extension and outreach programs that focus on delivery of knowledge to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

  • Linton will be in Richmond June 2 and 3 and on campus June 4 and 5. His open forum in Blacksburg is Thursday, June 4 from 2:30 p.m.to 3:30 p.m. with a reception following (VBI Auditorium). His open forum in Richmond is Wednesday, June 3, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. with a reception following (Virginia Farm Bureau Auditorium).


The campus open forums will be streamed live and recorded. Links to view the forums will be posted on the provost’s website. Online surveys will be posted to elicit feedback from students, faculty, staff and stakeholders.

To access the photos, CVs, and vision statements of the candidates, please visit the Office of the Provost website.