Head of animal science will resign after nine years

Ponce de Lean is a candidate for the role as dean of research for the merging college.

Yelena Kibasova

The head of the department of animal science in the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences has announced his decision to step down from the position.

Abel Ponce de Lean has been the department head for nine years.

“He’s really well-esteemed, and a noted researcher,” said John Byrnes, the college’s program director.

Recently, Ponce de Lean was announced as a finalist in the search for associate dean for research of the new expanded college, which will merge the College of Natural Resources with the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences.

There are four finalists for the dean for research position, said Susan Stafford, dean of the College of Natural Resources.

Ponce de Lean was planning to announce his resignation later this year, but in light of this announcement, he said, it was appropriate to voice his resignation early.

Ponce de Lean said he wanted to take a new step in his career, and with the department as strong as it is, he said, this was an appropriate time to step down.

Ponce de Lean will remain the acting head of the department until June 30, or until a replacement has been found. He sent his announcement to the department of animal science faculty members, staff members and students in an e-mail explaining his plans.

The dean for research for the new college will be announced in mid-December or the first week of January, said Charles Muscoplat, dean of the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences.

The right candidate will be “somebody who has a strong research credential, who has been successful in getting extramural funds, who is a visionary, who likes to work with others, who can reach out and build teams and who promotes disciplinary and multidisciplinary research,” Stafford said.

Ponce de Lean’s decision to step down is independent of the outcome of the search.

Ponce de Lean said he wanted to make it clear his decision to step down was made far in advance and does not coincide with the associate dean results.

Muscoplat said Ponce de Lean has done a remarkable job.

“He’s a very good department head, a strong researcher and good with dealing with undergraduates, and I’ll miss him,” he said.

Faculty members said finding a suitable replacement will take time.

“I’m very disappointed for the department of animal science because he’s been an outstanding head of our department. People as outstanding as Abel are hard to replace,” said Les Hansen, professor in the department of animal science. “He’s worked so hard and he’s been devoted to the department and to the department stakeholders.”

Since Ponce de Lean announced his decision by e-mail, most students are aware of his plans.

“It’s bad news. I think that his work is very good. There’s many good professors in our department that could take the position and I suppose (the college)… is going to make a broad postulation for this position,” said Luis Espejo, graduate student and research assistant in the department of animal science.

Ponce de Lean said he hopes the department will continue to work to define its role in the expansion of the college.