Chairperson, Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences – Michigan State University

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Chairperson, Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences – College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Michigan State University

Position  Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources invites applications and nominations for Chairperson of the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences (PSM). PSM is an interdisciplinary department including: Agronomy/crop science; Microbial science; Plant breeding and genetics; Plant pathology; Soil science; Turfgrass science and management; and Weed science.

The department provides a stimulating intellectual environment for engaged scholarship in promoting durable agricultural systems and environmental stewardship. The successful candidate must demonstrate the ability to embody and convey the land-grant mission of teaching, research, and extension/outreach to multiple audiences; provide effective leadership and management of multidisciplinary programs; be a strong advocate for the Department; and provide leadership for the continuing development of outstanding regional, national, and international programs. The full time, 12-month appointment position is available beginning August 15, 2019.

Specific Responsibilities  The Chairperson provides facilitative leadership of the Department in all teaching, research, extension, and outreach programs and is expected to maintain and enhance a creative and productive environment for faculty, staff, and students. The Chairperson serves as the principal representative of the Department with authority and responsibility for administrative decisions. The Chairperson reports directly to the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and interacts with senior leadership of the College, MSU Extension, and MSU AgBioResearch on a regular basis.

This is an administrative leadership position. Key responsibilities of the Chairperson include:

  •         Provide visionary leadership for creating, advancing, and articulating the mission of the Department and the land-grant mission, promoting national and international prominence;
  •        Encourage balanced and integrated teaching, research, extension, and outreach programs throughout Michigan, nationally, and internationally;
  •        Work with faculty to identify existing and emerging opportunities and develop strategic short- and long-range plans for departmental enhancement;
  •        Recruit outstanding faculty and staff, assign responsibilities, evaluate performance, and promote faculty, student, and staff development;
  •        Support faculty and student achievement; foster a culture of inclusion, collaboration, creativity and mentorship; and create a departmental culture wherein diverse faculty, staff, and students thrive;
  •        Serve as a member of the Institute of Agricultural Technology Directorate;
  •        Manage and administer Department budgets, including departmental farms, and provide oversight in the procurement of financial and other resources; assure fiscally responsible implementation;
  •        Adhere to all MSU policies in research, education, Extension/outreach, financial, and personnel administration;
  •        Work cooperatively within the departmental governance structure, which currently includes an Associate Chair for Research, an Associate Chair for Administration, a Departmental Teaching Coordinator, a Graduate Programs Director for Crop and Soil Sciences, a Graduate Programs Director for Plant Pathology, an Extension Project Leader, and a department- elected Department Advisory Committee;
  •        Serve as liaison and advocate for the Department within the larger governance structure of the College and University;
  •        Communicate and foster relationships with clientele, including departmental alumni, governmental leaders, MSU administrators, other campus units, private sector stakeholders, and professional and disciplinary groups;
  •        Represent the Department to state and federal agencies, private organizations, partners and collaborators, and key industry groups; and
  •        Advance fund development at the Department, College, and University levels.

Qualifications – The Department is seeking an individual with an outstanding record of achievement, including distinguished scholarship, leadership, team building, and dedication to the land grant mission. The applicant should have an appreciation for the range of disciplines related to plant, soil, and microbial sciences and the diverse functions of teaching, research, extension, and outreach, and must exhibit preparedness for administration of a large, diverse department. The successful candidate must possess outstanding leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills, along with the ability to promote the Department and increase its national and international prominence. Qualified candidates must have a doctorate in a related discipline and meet the requirements for tenure at the rank of full professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.

About the Department

The Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences at MSU ( is a leader in basic and applied plant, soil and microbial sciences research with over 70 faculty. The Department receives funds from AgBioResearch (formerly Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station) and MSU Extension in addition to state allocation, tuition, endowment, and grant sources. The Department’s standing assets include extensive laboratories and experimental farms. The Department provides leadership and delivers research and extension programs that are internationally recognized and respected, with impact at local, national, and international levels. The Department is highly networked with related academic units at MSU, including joint appointments within and outside the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The Department works closely with and is supported by stakeholders from Michigan’s diverse agricultural sector.

The Department offers PhD and MS degrees in Crop and Soil Sciences, Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology, as well as Plant Pathology with approximately 87 graduate students. PSM Graduate students can also pursue dual degree in Environmental and Integrative Toxicological Sciences (EITS), Environmental Science and Policy Program (ESPP), Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior (EEBB) or Genetics. The Department’s Bachelor of Science degree in Crop and Soil Sciences offers three academic concentrations linked by a common core curriculum: 1) Advanced Studies (for those planning graduate degrees); 2) Agronomic Sciences; and 3) Turfgrass Management. About 91 students are enrolled in the major. The department also offers two-year certificate programs through Institute of Agricultural Technology in agricultural industries, golf turf management, and sports and commercial turf management with approximately 91 students.

In both undergraduate and graduate programs, the Department embraces domestic as well as international applications, engagement, and opportunities. Our undergraduate and graduate programs include research opportunities, professional organizations, internships, and high impact experiential learning activities that prepare students for careers in academia, industry and government.

About the University

Michigan State University (MSU) is one of the top research universities in the world and home to nationally ranked and recognized academic, residential college, and service-learning programs. MSU is a diverse community of dedicated students and scholars, athletes and artists, and scientists that provide regional, national, and international leadership in basic and applied research and excellence in teaching. In addition, consistent with its Land Grant origins, the MSU community pursues international engagement and provides strong extension programs that partner with diverse stakeholders to provide much needed research in the areas of food, energy, water and the environment.

MSU enjoys a park-like campus with outlying research facilities and natural areas. The campus is located in the city of East Lansing, adjacent to the state capital city of Lansing. The Lansing metropolitan area has a diverse population of approximately 450,000. Local communities have excellent school systems and place a high value on education. The University is proactive about its obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and provides individual accessibility plans to students and employees with disabilities. Michigan State University is also proactive in exploring opportunities for employment for dual career families, both inside and outside the University, and respects all family forms. Information about MSU’s dual career support can be found at Information about WorkLife at MSU can be found at

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

In MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, we do not just accept difference; we celebrate, support, and thrive on it for the benefit of our faculty, staff, students, and community. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and an affirmative action employer that is committed to achieving inclusive excellence through attracting diverse candidates and fostering a culture of equity where everyone can attain individual and collective goals.

Salary and Benefits

Salary will be commensurate with qualifications. MSU offers a generous benefits package.

 (details at

How to Apply

To apply, applicants must submit an application at the MSU Human Resources site at (Posting #553197) and upload three documents: 1) a resume/CV, 2) a cover letter describing your interest in the position with an emphasis on your experience and philosophical approaches, and 3) a statement on how you would go about achieving a culture of diversity and inclusion as Department Chairperson. At the end of the cover letter, please also submit names and contact information for three references who are familiar with your work and leadership skills. Letters are not initially required, but these individuals may be immediately approached for additional information. Review of the applications will begin February 28, 2019, and the search will remain open until the position is filled.

For more information on this position, please contact the search committee co- chairs:

Wei Zhang, Ph.D. Associate Professor
Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Environmental Science and Policy Program Michigan State University
1066 Bogue St., RM A516
East Lansing, MI 48824 Office: 517-353-0471

Scott Loveridge, PhD
Professor of Ag., Food, and Resource Economics Interim Chair, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Michigan State University
7 Natural Resources Building 480 Wilson Road
East Lansing, MI 48824
Tel 517 432 9969 (Morrill Hall of Ag Office)
Tel 517 884-8799 (Natural Resources Office)

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