UNIVERSITY PARK — Bruce McPheron, dean of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, is leaving the university for a job at Ohio State.
McPheron has been at Penn State for 24 years. He will be vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in entomology.
McPheron became dean at Penn State on July 1, 2009, and went on to oversee a major reorganization of the College of Agricultural Sciences. His time as dean came during a period of flat state funding for agricultural research and Cooperative Extension, leading to job cuts through attrition and some layoffs in 2010. In 2011, state support for Penn State, including agricultural programs, dropped 19 percent.
He was at the helm when agreement was reached among various parties and the General Assembly passed legislation to divide 1,800 acres of Rockview property. Penn State ended up with about 450 acres for research and programs, after a drawn-out process.
The reorganization of the college, approved by the board of trustees in November, included cutting the number of departments from 12 to nine. It followed a two-year internal review.
“Our focus was to strengthen our academic programs while becoming a more agile organization that can respond quickly to emerging issues, trends and changing dynamics in the global food and fiber system,” McPheron said at the time.
McPheron is scheduled to start at Ohio State on Nov. 1, after approval from that university’s board. According to that university, McPheron worked as a 4-H county extension agent in Ohio in the early 1980s. He is known for his research involving insect genetics.
In a news release, Penn State President Rodney Erickson said McPheron “has been an exemplary steward for Penn State’s land-grant mission, most recently having led the College of Agricultural Sciences through perhaps its most challenging era.
“Bruce has led the college through a difficult period of shrinking public resources, and through a strong strategic planning process involving many constituencies, has positioned Penn State agricultural sciences as a more focused, more efficient operation for the years to come,” Erickson said. “I am grateful for his 24 years of service and wish him well as he returns to his alma mater and this vice presidency.”
Penn State spokeswoman Jill Shockey said that an interim dean will be named and a national search will be conducted, with the goal of having the new dean in place by July 1.
Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy.