May 28, 2004

Gary Minish to lead SIUC's agriculture college

by Paula M. Davenport

(Pronouncer: Minish is min-ISH ).

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An internationally respected livestock expert with a 35-year record of success as a professor and administrator will become dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Aug. 1.

His selection came after a national search and is subject to ratification by the SIU Board of Trustees.Gary L. Minish, former department head and professor of animal and poultry sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, or VT, in Blacksburg, Va., will take the reins from Robert D. Arthur, interim dean of the SIUC agriculture college. Minish retired from VT in 2001 and has been working as a consultant.

"Professor Minish was selected from a very fine pool of excellent candidates," SIUC Provost and Vice Chancellor John M. Dunn said in announcing the hire. "His appointment will help to transform our nationally acclaimed College of Agricultural Sciences into one of even greater prominence."

Along with his administrative experience, Dunn said Minish has "outstanding credentials" as a scientist, teacher and administrator.

"His vision for the College of Agricultural Sciences is timely, responsive to the needs of the agricultural industry, and consistent with the University's long-range plan -- Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment," Dunn added.

SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler said Minish's skills, experiences and clear leadership will help the college move forward. "We extend a warm welcome and look forward to seeing where he will take the college as we move toward our long-range goal of becoming one of the Top 75 public research institutions in the nation," Wendler said.

Minish seems born to this kind of work.

Raised on his family's Iowa cattle and grain farm, he participated in the local 4-H club and developed enough show ring savvy that he eventually got the job of showing the champion market steer at the Iowa State Fair and the American Royal Livestock Exposition -- which helped pay for college.

In 1962, he earned a bachelor's degree in animal science at Iowa State University. Four years later, he earned a doctorate in animal science at Michigan State University.

After graduation, Minish joined the faculty in VT's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. During a 35-year stint at VT he rose through the faculty ranks to become a full professor in the department of animal science and later assistant dean and assistant director of resident instruction and then associate dean and director of development and agriculture technology for the ag college.

When he headed VT's animal and poultry sciences department (1994 to 2001), undergraduate enrollments rose 76 percent. Research productivity also climbed, with faculty members bringing in more than $1.2 million in grants and publishing 93 refereed journal articles, 46 proceedings papers, eight book chapters and 27 abstracts during his final year.

In addition, he nurtured close ties with Virginia's seven major livestock and poultry industries, initiated the first Virginia Tech Livestock and Poultry Youth Weekend program on campus (which is a major recruiting tool), drew up a strategic plan that served as a model for other college departments and resulted in the allocation of four new faculty positions, and fostered interdisciplinary working relationships with departments and agencies on and off campus.

As associate dean and director of development for the agriculture college, he played a key role in funding three professorships and brought in $2.8 million over two years.

On the way up he taught 10 different courses, advised more than 800 students and won a faculty teaching award and a University Teaching Excellence Award.

Minish said he applied for his new position because of the college's reputation for attracting high-caliber agriculture faculty and students.

Initially he plans to spend time getting to know students, faculty, staff and various college stakeholders across Illinois before embarking on a plan to build on the college's existing strengths.

"I hope to assist the college in strengthening its ties with our commodity groups and industry clientele, to increase undergraduate and graduate student enrollment, identify research focus areas that will complement the Southern@150 initiative and be on a continuous quest for funds to improve our facilities, equipment, farms and research and teaching programs," Minish said.

He's intimately familiar with the rigors of livestock production and is sought internationally as a cattle judge.

He and his wife, Roberta, plan to live in Carbondale.