After six months of reviewing over 20 applicants, a new dean of the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources was named last week Monday. Florida sugarcane biotechnology expert Maria Gallo will lead CTAHR starting July 16.
Currently a professor and chair of the University of Florida's Agronomy Department in Gainsville, Fla., Gallo is a co-founder and co-director of the University of Florida Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership Program, which established a nexus for life science researchers and social science.
“I am excited about being the new Dean of CTAHR and having the opportunity to work with such skilled and dedicated faculty and staff. Agriculture in Hawai‘i is critical to the health of our citizens, communities, industries and environment,” Gallo stated in an email.
“One of my goals will be to continue to strengthen the college's public and private partnerships in Hawai‘i, as well as nationally and internationally to tackle our challenges in developing sustainable food systems that provide safe and nutritious food. This will require discovery of new knowledge through both applied and basic scientific research and delivering that knowledge to our students, industries and producers, and the general public. CTAHR's mission has never been more relevant or needed than it is today,” she continued.
In Florida, Gallo leads a research program aimed at improving the performance and quality of tropical energy and agronomic crops. She is immediate past president of the Crop Science Society of America, as well as president of the American Peanut Research and Education Society.
“I was delighted to hear about the appointment of Dr. Maria Gallo to the position of dean of CTAHR. Coming from the University of Florida, Dr. Gallo has a keen understanding of tropical and subtropical agriculture,” chair of the Department of Human Nutrition and senior faculty member Douglas Vincent wrote in an email.
Gallo has led pioneering programs for sugarcane biotechnology. Her research team’s main focus has been enhancing sugarcane as a bioenergy crop. CTAHR has also been studying how to use crops to produce fuel.
“During her interview, I was very impressed with her leadership experience, her energy, and her enthusiasm. I am excited and look forward to working with her to help move CTAHR and Hawai‘i food, agriculture and families forward,” wrote Vincent.
"I am pleased that Dr. Gallo has agreed to be the next dean,” former dean and current professor of molecular biosciences and bioengineering Andrew G. Hashimoto stated in an email. “I also want to acknowledge the outstanding leadership of Dr. Sylvia Yuen, who served as interim dean these past two years."
The 12-member Search Advisory Committee, led by Dean William Chismar of the Outreach College, was set up back in August to review a diverse set of applicants, generate and place ads to solicit candidates, manage the campus visits of the four finalists, and send a final report to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
“Everybody is excited about her energy, knowledge of agriculture and leadership skills. ... And her ability to sit down and listen to people is amazing,” said Chismar. “CTAHR has a very diverse people, so the position of dean of CTAHR is very challenging. She has experience in public issues, which is very important in Hawai‘i’s agriculture.”
CTAHR is the founding college of UH, established in 1907 as the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.
“As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the land-grant university system through the Morrill Act, Dr. Gallo’s commitment to CTAHR’s statewide mission will be key to help Hawai‘i become more sustainable and food and energy secure,” said Vincent.