Dean Armstrong heading west

You may have already seen a notice from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Dean Jeffrey Armstrong announcing his imminent appointment to the presidency of California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. You can read more about Cal Poly and the official announcement of his selection at

 I remember when Dean Armstrong came to Michigan State University (MSU) in 2001 to guide our college, and the sense of optimism and can-do spirit that he brought with him. I’ve been fortunate to serve with him in several capacities during his term as dean, and I really think his positive and optimistic outlook has changed the way I look at the world. It’s been a tough ten years in Michigan. Our budget has been challenging, the industries and communities we serve have been challenged economically and in the public policy sector.

 Yet through it all, the dean has shared with us all a spirit that we can persevere through these challenges and actually improve our college and the people we serve in these challenging times. There is no giving up in Jeff’s world. That spirit, that sense of optimism, has been especially important to us in MSU Extension, as our organization has often been at the front of the line in facing challenges. I will always be grateful for the trust and support Jeff has given me as a member of his leadership team, and the tremendous latitude and support he has given us in making the case for MSUE with decision makers. I’m not at all surprised that Cal Poly would tap him to provide the same spirit of leadership for their university. He thinks and leads like a president.

 As happy as I am for Jeff as he launches into this new career opportunity, I’ll confess that it amps up the anxiety about the change process underway in MSUE and in the college. It adds uncertainty for us, but as with all of the other uncertainty we’ve faced in recent years, this gives us another opportunity to explore and create new ways of doing business, and new ways of understanding our mission. At the end of the day, we’ll each go home from work each day knowing that we have new opportunities to help people across Michigan improve their lives, regardless of who is at the helm of our college. We’re better positioned to do that thanks to Jeff’s leadership over nearly 10 stormy years. And we’re pretty well conditioned to stormy conditions, so I’m confident we’ll manage through the next few years of change. For now, I’m pleased to see our dean and my colleague and friend have an opportunity to lead an entire university. And for his sake, I hope things aren’t quite so stormy in California.

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