Dean's Message: CFANS 2.0

Won't you join us?

Brian Buhr

CFANS Dean Brian Buhr

The University of Minnesota's new strategic plan lays out a bold vision: "Be Pre-eminent in Solving the Grand Challenges of a Diverse and Changing World." At CFANS, we're trying to do just that.

Our college can create world-changing solutions, and we will. We're located in the heart of some of the world's leading private sector firms in agriculture, forestry and food production, as well as a diverse agricultural and natural resource landscape. Our renowned faculty are leaders in their fields, and we have bright, enthusiastic cohorts of undergraduate and graduate students.

In the last century CFANS and the university were central to the Green Revolution, and now we're seeking to lead in the 21st century. The world has changed, and now we need an economically savvy, more environmentally sustainable, more inclusive and more collaborative push to end global hunger and restore our natural resources. Call it CFANS 2.0.

How will we do it? Opportunities abound at the intersections where information, biological and physical technologies intersect. Those new technologies will help us lead as the best minds, facilities and financial resources from national and international academia, industry, government and related partners are brought together to advance science worldwide while also allowing globally relevant science to be deployed locally.

Our internal challenge is to create an innovation-driven culture, to "reject complacency" as the university's strategic plan specifies. To that end, we're in the process of hiring several key strategic positions to advance those goals: We've recently hired two new associate deans and are in the process of hiring new directors for the Water Resources Center and the new Terrestrial Invasive Plants and Pests Center. Further, we've just announced the hiring of Professor Philip Pardey ('86–Ph.D., Agricultural and Applied Economics) as director of our global research strategies.

Ultimately, though, it's our faculty, staff, students, alumni and private and public sector partners that together drive our innovation ecosystem. In all the activities and goals described above we're encouraging engagement and ownership of these research ambitions. The question I'll leave with you as you read this magazine is, "How will you join us in the grand challenge?"

We welcome your insights and participation!