by Amy Olson

Mike Martin, dean of the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences for the past three years, will leave the University on Oct. 12 for a high-ranking position at the University of Florida.
In what he called the most difficult decision of his life, Martin accepted an offer from Florida officials to become vice president for agriculture and natural resources in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“I lost a month of sleep and went through a bottle of Rolaids,” said Martin, who is also the vice president of agricultural policy at the University.
Martin will take charge of Florida’s agriculture college, agriculture experiment station and the extension service. Edward Hoffman, chairman of the microbiology department and a member of the search committee, said Martin’s title will be different in Florida, but his position will be similar to the one he holds at the University.
Hoffman said Martin was University of Florida President John Lombardi’s first choice.
“He’s done everything we looked for,” Hoffman said. The search committee examined its top three candidate’s backgrounds in teaching, research, working with the agriculture industry, lobbying and, in Martin’s case, experience as a dean and vice president.
“Mike Martin has been an outstanding dean and a very strong state and national leader in agriculture,” said Robert Bruininks, University executive vice president and provost. “His leave is a great loss to the University and to Minnesota.”
Bruininks said he will meet with faculty members within two weeks to appoint an interim dean.
Martin said he accepted the position because it offered him new opportunities and challenges.
“It’s going to be hard,” Martin said, adding Florida’s agriculture market is more diverse than Minnesota’s because it includes the citrus and turf industries in addition to industries like forestry and beef.
Hoffman said faculty members are ready to welcome Martin. “It’s going to be fun for him,” Hoffman said. “He’ll enjoy it.”
Martin acknowledged the move will be challenging. Since his appointment Wednesday, he has received many calls and e-mail messages.
“They’ve gone out of their way to make me feel like this will be a comfortable landing,” Martin said.