Helene Dillard Hits Stride as Dean of UC Davis College of Ag
November 4, 2014
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Cal Ag Today Reporter
Dr. Helene Dillard, the new dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis appointed this past January 2014, commented at the Produce Marketing Association Annual Meeting last month in Anaheim, that she has very well-defined goals for the students in her department.“One of my goals is to make sure that we are giving our students the very best education that we can possibly give them, and also to help them see envision new career paths,” Dillard. “So many of our students arrive and are not sure what they want to do, but they know that they are interested in food and agriculture.”
Dillard noted that when she left high school, she knew that she wanted to be a scientist, but she had no idea that she would one day become a plant pathologist, working on fungal diseases on lettuce. “We have more than 30 majors in our college, which gives our students so many opportunities,” she said.
“I also want to help our students realize just how big California agriculture is,” said Dillard. “It’s important that they know the breath and depth of the state’s ag industry and help them to appreciate this $45 billion industry,” she said.
Dillard is also interested in internships for students. “I want to make sure our students get their toes in the water for potential jobs and see the high technology involved in agriculture–that it’s not just about shovels,” she said.
She said students get a lot of hands-on experience at the university, with more than 3,000 acres of farmland for students to work with. “It’s different when you do some experiments on the university farm, versus going out in the real world and do it on a bigger scale. So the goal is to get them to practice on the university farm and then get out to a farm for an internship.
Dillard said another exciting thing about UC Davis is that the university is at a stage where it is hiring a lot of new people. “We currently have 15 active searches for new faculty, which is really exciting as these people come from all over the world,” she said.