Seven people will be honored Friday at UC Davis with an “Award of Distinction” during the 25th annual College Celebration for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
The honorees include faculty, staff, alumni, administrators and a friend of UCD’s founding college. The awards are presented annually to those whose contributions and achievements enhance the college’s ability to provide cutting-edge research, top-notch education and innovative outreach.
“College Celebration is the premier community event for our college and its many supporters who stand with us through thick and thin,” said Mary Delany, interim dean of the college. “This year, in particular, we have much to celebrate, including the 25th anniversary of a harvest-season gathering that has come to mean so much to us.
“The Award of Distinction recipients have made, and continue to make, remarkable contributions that bring great inspiration, honor, and distinction to the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.”
Members of the campus community and the public are invited to attend the celebration, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in Freeborn Hall. A harvest reception follows the awards presentation. Tickets are $15 each and will be available at the door.
This year’s Award of Distinction recipients are:
* Friend of the College: Robert “Bob” Curtis, associate manager for agricultural affairs at the Almond Board of California and a Carmichael resident, honored for his efforts to bring support for research and extension programs that have improved almond production practices, quality and safety, and environmental stewardship.
Production research has contributed to the growth and success of California almonds, which now encompass 835,000 acres, rank second in California farm gate value, and are the nation’s largest horticultural export, Curtis says. He also chaired the California Commodity Committee and was part of a national specialty crop research team that helped obtain funding for research on nutrient budgeting, irrigation management, rootstock evaluation, honey bee health and other areas.
* Outstanding Faculty: Kathryn “Kay” Dewey, a distinguished professor in the department of nutrition and a Davis resident, is the director of the UCD Program in International and Community Nutrition and has conducted clinical and community-based research on maternal and child nutrition both in the United States and several developing countries.
Her research on breast-fed and formula-fed infants helped the World Health Organization develop new charts to monitor and assess child growth. Other studies by Dewey prompted WHO to make a global recommendation for the exclusive breast-feeding of infants for the first six months of life.
As director of the International Lipid-based Nutrient Supplements Project, she leads an effort to prevent malnutrition in pregnant and lactating women and their children.
* Outstanding Staff: Janet Brown-Simmons, chief administrative officer for five academic departments in the college and a Granite Bay resident, joined the department of entomology in 2000 as the management services officer. Her skill at bringing effective change to departmental operations also helped resolve issues within the shared administrative units for the departments of plant pathology and nematology.
In 2012, she took on the additional role of chief administrative officer for an administrative cluster that provides staff support for the departments of environmental toxicology; land, air and water resources; and wildlife, fish and conservation biology. She served as interim management services officer for the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program, assumed management responsibilities for Foundation Plant Services and conducted administrative reviews of many other departments in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
* Outstanding Alumni: Willison “Will” Crites, retired from the agricultural chemical industry, who is being honored for his leadership in entomology department reunions and his steadfast philanthropic support. He earned his bachelor’s degree (1958) and master’s degree (1961) in entomology.
His career with Shell Chemical Co.’s agricultural chemical group took him to New Jersey, San Francisco, Portland, Fresno and eventually to Walnut Creek, where he now lives. He cites his work with the introduction of Shell-marketed pyrethroid insecticides as a major accomplishment. He remains active as an industry consultant.
Crites has twice helped bring entomology graduates from the 1950s through 1970s back to UCD for reunions. He is a charter member of the UCD Chancellor’s Club and has pledged support for an endowed chair in economic entomology.
* Outstanding Alumni: Glenda Humiston, California director of the USDA’s Rural Development Program, is being honored for a career devoted to advancing sustainability in policy development and program implementation. A resident of Novato, she earned her master’s degree in international agricultural development in 1989 and then served as executive director of the nonprofit Sonoma County Farmlands group.
She has been a partner in a consulting firm focusing on agricultural and environmental policy issues and served President Clinton as deputy undersecretary for natural resources and environment at the USDA. She also managed programs at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in South Africa and the World Water Forum in Mexico City.
Humiston was appointed by President Obama in 2009 to lead USDA Rural Development in California.
* College Leaders: Neal Van Alfen, a professor of plant pathology who served as dean of the college for 13 years, is being honored with a special Award of Distinction. He served as dean from August 1999 until September 2012, facing some particularly challenging years because of unprecedented budget reductions.
College leaders worked with faculty to reposition the college in ways that would assure continued excellence. Under his watch, funds were raised to build and support new research and teaching facilities and programs, such as the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and the Agricultural Sustainability Institute.
Van Alfen, who lives in Winters, has returned to faculty life in the department of plant pathology and continues his involvement in global agricultural and environmental issues.
* College Leaders: James “Jim” MacDonald, a professor emeritus of plant pathology who served as executive associate dean of the college for 13 years, also is receiving a special Award of Distinction. During his tenure, MacDonald worked closely with Van Alfen and colleagues to launch initiatives and to provide the best possible stewardship of resources during periods of serious budget challenges.
He had responsibility for academic and staff personnel management, including faculty recruitments, retentions and advancement. He also served as the college’s representative to the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Council.
Outside the UC system, MacDonald served many leadership roles in the American Phytopathological Society, notably as president. He received the society’s Distinguished Service Award in 2008. MacDonald lives in Davis.
The College Celebration awards ceremony is followed by a reception that includes regional and specialty foods and beverages. A highlight of the evening is the farmers market display, packed with fresh California farm products provided by commodity groups, college departments and other organizations. Attendees can take the food products home with them.