Wendy Powers, an experienced leader who guides statewide agricultural research and extension for the University of California division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has been named the new Cashup Davis Family Endowed Dean of Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.
WSU Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton announced Powers’ selection following a national search. Powers will join the college, referred to at WSU by the acronym CAHNRS, on Aug. 15.
“Dr. Powers draws from a deep well of experience in leading the land-grant mission,” said Provost Chilton. “She embodies that mission through her collaborative work with agricultural producers and research peers nationwide. Her demonstrated success in fostering academic excellence, resilient partnerships, and community engagement across many states makes her ideally suited to lead this college into the future.”
Powers said she’s honored to be part of the CAHNRS story.
“Discovery in this college touches all corners of Washington, and I am excited by the opportunity to harness that potential,” she said. “What’s really drawing me is the chance to make a difference for all Washingtonians by supporting advancements and sharing new ideas in agriculture, natural resources, and the human sciences.”
Statewide partnership builder
As the associate vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Powers has led academic, research, and outreach programs for the University of California since 2016. She built partnerships within and beyond the university, overseeing county-based cooperative extension outreach, 12 statewide programs and institutes, and nine research and extension centers across California.
Powers began her career as an assistant professor and extension specialist in animal science at Iowa State University, then moved to Michigan State University, where she served as a full professor in the departments of Animal Science and Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, extension specialist, and director of environmental stewardship for animal agriculture in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She was also the first director of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute for Michigan State University Extension.
As a scientist, Powers linked research discovery with outreach to the livestock industry, providing knowledge and tools to help producers reduce their environmental impacts while staying competitive and meeting growing consumer demand. She holds a doctorate in animal science and a master’s degree in dairy science from the University of Florida, and a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Cornell University.
Powers replaces former Dean André-Denis Wright, who led the college from 2018 to 2021. Interim Dean Richard T. Koenig has overseen CAHNRS since mid-2021.
“On behalf of the university, I share my deep gratitude to Dr. Koenig for his stewardship and leadership of CAHNRS,” Chilton said. “He has been a steady, positive force for the college during an era of change, and I wish him great success as he returns to chair the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.
“I also thank all of the candidates, as well as all faculty, staff, and agricultural partners on the search committee for their efforts in bringing new and inspiring leadership to CAHNRS,” she added.
The CAHNRS mission
The Cashup Davis Family Endowed Dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences is named for 19th century Palouse pioneer James S. “Cashup” Davis. The $5 million endowment, created by Cashup’s great-grandson, Gordon W. Davis, enhances academic and research endeavors in CAHNRS that reflect the Davis family’s innovative, entrepreneurial spirit. The fund also builds a culture of philanthropy among CAHNRS students, alumni, and friends.
CAHNRS shares WSU research and discovery with Washington through an expansive state presence, with 12 schools and departments, three Extension Program Units, four Research and Extension Centers, and Extension offices serving 39 counties as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
Innovation in CAHNRS creates healthy communities, families, and children, sustains the economy and the environment, and continually advances the science and practice of agriculture, helping feed a growing world populace. In fiscal year 2021, CAHNRS secured research funding exceeding $83 million, accounting for more than 23 percent of WSU’s total extramural research funding.