Courtesy of OSU
An Ohio State College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences alumnus is coming home.
Bruce McPheron, former dean of Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, will be starting as the OSU vice president of agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on Nov. 1.
McPheron, whose salary will be $303,000, will be taking the position held by Bobby Moser, who announced his retirement from a 20-year term in September 2011.
“I need to be respectful to my colleagues back at Penn State and help with the transition. I was offered the job in midsummer and accepted it in August,” McPheron said when asked why he’s starting so late into the semester. “We have made a lot of changes in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences – structural changes, philosophical changes, budgetary changes – and I felt that I owed it to them to be able to help our current president, Rodney Erickson, make the transition in finding new leadership for the college.”
McPheron was a faculty member at Penn State for 24 years since starting as an assistant professor of entomology. But when given the chance to come back to OSU, McPheron felt it was an opportunity he had to “really take a hard look at.”
“I come from Ohio originally, I actually started my career in bugs as a 4-H’er in Union County, Ohio, and then grew up in Hardin County, in the northwest part of the state,” he said.
4-H is a youth organization overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
McPheron earned his bachelor’s degree in entomology with honors at OSU, and a master’s degree in biology and a doctorate in entomology at the University of Illinois.
Besides getting the chance to return to his home state and alma mater, McPheron said it was OSU President E. Gordon Gee who convinced McPheron to take the job.
“(Gee) began to talk about the discovery themes that are going to guide Ohio State’s thinking over the next many years. And as he listed those off, food production and food security, energy and environment, health and wellness, those are all the core mission of this college, and I thought to have a university president of a university of this quality sit there and tell me that the university’s going to be driven by things that my college would do was a really compelling argument,” McPheron said.
Gee said in a university press release he is “delighted” to have McPheron take the job.
“Dr. McPheron is an Ohioan by birth, an Ohio State alumnus, and spent three years working as a county extension educator in the state,” Gee said in the press release. “He brings a global view and worldwide experience back to Ohio to lead one of Ohio State’s most important educational programs.”
McPheron is internationally recognized for his research in insect genetics, including the development of new genetic tools for monitoring the spread of invasive fruit fly species, according to the university release.
McPheron said he is excited for the changes to come, but what he’s going to do first is “a lot of learning.”
“I need to look at leadership and helping our staff, faculty, even students, understand the importance, not only of the subject matter we look at, but also the importance of being a leader in that subject matter,” he said. “We have a lot of issues of infrastructure, facilities that we need to take a look at.”
He said a lot of the buildings on campus haven’t changed since he was a student at OSU.
There are about 2,000 students in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the main campus, and about 700 more students at the Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster, Ohio, McPheron said.
Some faculty and students in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences said they are excited about the transition.
“I am thrilled. I think, if I had the opportunity to pick somebody, I would have picked someone with the exact characteristics that he has,” said Joan Lieb, the college’s executive assistant to the vice president and dean. “I have not heard one negative thing. I think everyone (is) really excited and anxious to work with him and it’s all been very positive.”
Christine Dubler, a second-year in animal sciences and community leadership, said she thinks McPheron will “be a great replacement for Dr. Moser.”
“I watched a couple videos that our college put up about him,” Dubler said. “He was a great ambassador for agriculture in (Pennsylvania).”
McPheron is married with two children. His son is a Navy rescue swimmer in San Diego, and his daughter is finishing her final semester as a photography student at Penn State.