Barbara Christ named interim dean of Penn State College of Ag Sciences

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Barbara Christ, senior associate dean and professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences, has been named interim dean of the college while a national search for a permanent replacement gets under way. Current Dean Bruce McPheron announced his plans to take on the role of vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University, his undergraduate alma mater, in November.

Christ’s appointment will be effective Nov. 1, when she takes responsibility for leading the college’s nine academic units and an extension program that reaches into every Pennsylvania county to deliver University programs. With 1,077 employees, 3,000 undergraduate students and 460 graduate students, the College of Agricultural Sciences also invests nearly $97 million in research and graduate study yearly.

“Barbara Christ has been on the college faculty since 1984 and her experience not only within the college, but also within the agricultural community and among researchers is extensive and noteworthy,” said Robert Pangborn, interim executive vice president and provost. “She is the perfect candidate to lead the college during this period of transition and her experience as senior associate dean within the college will allow the college to keep its focus on its core missions.”

Christ was named senior associate dean in 2009 after serving four years as head of the Department of Plant Pathology. She has been a member of the college faculty for 28 years and has broad experience as a researcher with a focus on potato breeding and disease management. She joined the plant pathology faculty as an assistant professor in 1984, became associate professor in 1990 and attained the rank of full professor in 2000. She previously worked as a research assistant in the plant pathology department of the University of Minnesota and has served as president of the American Phytopathological Society.

In her role as senior associate dean, Christ has wide-ranging duties that touch on all aspects of the college, including strategic planning, budgeting, personnel, promotion and tenure, external relations and day-to-day operations. She played a key role in helping to plan and implement the college's recent restructuring, which resulted in the reorganization of its academic departments and statewide extension programs.

Christ holds a bachelor of science degree in plant science from Penn State, a master’s degree in plant pathology from the University of Minnesota and a doctoral degree in botany from the University of British Columbia. She also has worked extensively with agricultural Extension leaders and agricultural industries in Pennsylvania and nationally.

The national search for a permanent dean for the college will be launched in the near future, according to Pangborn.

Last Updated January 09, 2015