Dean of College of Agriculture and Life Science to resign

After serving as Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for seven years, Dr. Rachel Johnson has announced she is stepping down after the conclusion of this spring semester to pursue a temporary leave. Dr. Johnson contributed to the USDA/Department of Health and Human Services 2000 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advisory commit?tee and is widely recognized for her work on the effects of sweetened beverages in the diets of children. Johnson is frequently featured as a commentator on Vermont Public Radio and runs her own column in “Eating Well” magazine. Locally, Dr. Johnson has played an active role sponsoring outreach programs dedicated to solving the nutrition, dietary and agricultural is?sues of Vermont. “I am grateful to Dean Johnson for her leadership at CALS,” said David Marvin, chair of the advisory board for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and owner, with his wife Lucy, of Butter?nut Mountain Farm of Morris?ville, Vt.”She understands how important the University’s land grant mission is to maintaining Vermont’s working landscape and has been a champion for the College as it delivers on that mission.”Johnson played a leading role both fundraising for and designing of the new $55 million Plant and Soil Science building, scheduled to begin construction in spring of 2008. “It’s a fabulous building,” Johnson said “…we’ll be conducting state of the art research on everything from plant biology to cross-college ecological and environmental sciences.” Johnson’s expertise and professionalism have established her as a widely respect?ed and admired leader at the University of Vermont. Undoubtedly, her departure from the University will leave a significant void in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences community. UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel said, “We are deeply appreciative of the leadership and vision Rachel Johnson has brought over the course of many years to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, to the University and to the state of Vermont…” according to a press release. He added later, “The University will now make every effort to identify another outstanding leader for CALS to follow in her footsteps.”With a national search underway for a new dean to take her former position, Johnson plans to return to the University in July of 2009, although she says returning to her former position as dean is not a possibility. Johnson plans to spend most of her time on leave traveling with her husband, though she said, “I do have a couple of graduate students that I am working with and I am committed to continuing to work with them.”What’s been really fascinating to me is how our work on children’s beverage choices has developed into some re?ally meaningful policy around children’s access to soft drinks in schools,” Johnson said. In the quiet offices of Morrill Hall, the Dean’s administrative assistant Robin Smith said, “She’s a wonderful person to work with. She’s enthusiastic, energetic, she works corroboratively and is a great leader. She brings out the best in people and I’m going to miss her.”