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A Decade of Leadership: In Photos

Photos and captions compiled by Mary Alo

On June 30, when Susan A. Henry steps down as Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, she will have served 10 years as the first woman dean of Cornell’s second–largest college—an experience she characterizes as "enormously satisfying" as well as "remarkable and enriching."

While she will miss her daily interactions with the many committed people with whom she has worked closely as dean, she expects to continue her relationships with the CALS community as a faculty member, and will return to teaching and research after a one-year sabbatical.

"I am continually impressed by the excellence of our faculty, students, and staff and the level of enthusiasm of our alumni and stakeholders for providing leadership and improving people’s lives in challenging times," said Dean Henry. "I am very proud to have been part of that effort."

"Susan Henry has been extraordinarily effective as the dean of one of Cornell’s largest and most complex colleges," said Kent Fuchs, Cornell’s provost. "Her commitment to excellence and her strong leadership have made a permanent, positive impact on Cornell. CALS is very fortunate to have had the benefit of her innovative and exemplary service."


During her tenure, Henry focused the activities of CALS around four broad priorities: the land grant mission, the applied social sciences, the environmental sciences, and the new life sciences. Working with the help of various faculty task forces, she was able to institute new majors in agricultural sciences, information sciences, and viticulture and enology, and to evolve and modernize undergraduate curricula in the environmental and biological sciences.

For each of the past 10 years, CALS has continued the pace of faculty hires and balanced the budget despite declining state support. Student applications and contributions from alumni and friends have increased, academic priorities have been redefined, the vision and mission rearticulated, new web sites launched, and administrative services streamlined. Henry has helped raise $198 million, or 53.5 percent of CALS’ target in the Far Above Campaign.

One of Dean Henry’s proudest achievements is the successful accreditation of Cornell’s undergraduate business program in the Department of Applied Economics and Management, and its subsequent ranking in the top five by Business Week.

Henry has also been an effective steward of the college’s facilities and farms. Under her watch, CALS completed the renovation of Mann Library and secured the commitment of state funding for the long–awaited renovations of Stocking, Warren, Rice, and Fernow halls, for which planning and designs are underway. She helped cut the ribbon for a teaching winery and biofuels laboratory on the Ithaca campus, the Vinification and Brewing Lab and the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park in Geneva, and the new Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland, N.Y. Under her leadership, CALS was also able to secure organic certification for the Freeville Farm.

In 2004–2005, Dean Henry led a year-long celebration of the college’s centennial, advancing the mission of teaching, research, and extension espoused by Liberty Hyde Bailey, the first dean, with whom she feels a deep affinity. Dozens of events were held on campus, throughout New York, and around the U.S., including Hawaii. As a component of this peripatetic celebration, she and her husband traveled around the world visiting CALS alumni and collaborators in India, China, and the Philippines.

Dean Henry has collaborated with many agricultural and food stakeholders at home and abroad, where she traveled extensively. This has resulted in the establishment of dual–degree programs with universities in India and the signing of teaching and research memoranda of understanding with universities in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Closer to home, she served on former Senator Hillary Clinton’s Agricultural Advisory Council, was a member of Governor Paterson’s New York State Council on Food Policy, and helped create the New York Farm Viability Institute.

"Susan Henry never flinched," said Cornell trustee emeritus John S. Dyson ’65. "Even with the tough times, she was always optimistic and sure we could find the right path for CALS. Indeed, she did over and over again. It has been my privilege to work closely with all the deans over the last 30 years. When the history is written, I am sure she will rank in the handful that comprise the top group."