College of Agriculture appointed University alumnus as new dean

by Benjamin Ganje

A former pharmaceutical executive is filling a void at the University that was shrouded in controversy since the beginning of the year.
Charles Muscoplat, a University alumnus, will be named the new dean of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences with his duties beginning in September, pending approval by the University’s Board of Regents.
The new dean will take on a three-part role at the University. Along with being appointed dean, Muscoplat has been named vice president for agricultural policy and director of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.
Muscoplat said he will first get to know the college, the staff and the University policy-makers along with state lawmakers to become comfortable with his new job.”My first concern will be to increase enrollment in the college,” Muscoplat said.
He will fill the vacancy left by former dean Mike Martin, who took a position at the University of Florida in October 1998. In January 1999, Martin and a state senator were involved in a controversy about the alleged misuse of public funds.
Currently the vice president for medical affairs at MGI Pharma Inc., Muscoplat was chosen after a three-part application process that took six months.
“I love the University. I am happy to come back,” said Muscoplat, who received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a doctorate in veterinary microbiology from the University. Since 1976, he served as a University faculty member, first as a research associate and then as a professor with a partial appointment. He moved into the private sector in 1983.
Muscoplat moved to MGI from the University in 1981. MGI, based in Minnetonka, specializes in pharmaceutical and medical products for therapeutic markets.
“Dr. Muscoplat combines the talents and perspectives of a first-rate scientist, academician, businessperson, manager and advocate for agriculture,” said University President Mark Yudof in a written statement released Friday.
“I believe his appointment as dean and vice president sends a strong signal that the University of Minnesota is committed to the agriculture community. … He will serve as a strong voice for agriculture in my administration,” Yudof said.
The job entails building coalitions within the college and the people it serves, Martin said.
“I wish him well. The University of Minnesota is a great institution. I am confident the people who work in that department — I know them well — will assist Charles in his new job,” Martin said.
When Muscoplat takes the helm in September, he will begin by setting priorities for himself and the school.
“My primary mission is teaching,” said Muscoplat. Beyond that, he hopes to address the “worldwide rural and agricultural crisis,” which began with the 1998 Asian market crash that adversely affected commodities causing prices to drop. This collapse ignited a ripple effect throughout the worldwide agriculture industry.
As director of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, Muscoplat will travel to different stations around the state to assess Minnesota’s land grant status.
Muscoplat has a diverse repertoire in the field of agriculture. He helped to develop the nation’s first biotechnology plant product, herbicide-tolerant corn and the nation’s first biotechnology animal health product, Genecol 99.