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Chad Kruger to oversee WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center

Chad Kruger, current director of WSU’s Northwestern Washington Research & Extension Center (NWREC) in Mount Vernon, the Puyallup Research & Extension Center, and the Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources (CSANR), will become the next director of the Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center (TFREC) at Wenatchee, Wash.

This appointment will be a return to familiar territory for Kruger, who started at WSU in 2004: he worked for 11 years in Wenatchee as part of CSANR.

Studio portrait of Chad Kruger
Chad Kruger

“Although I have generational family farming roots in both sides of the state, I’ve always considered myself an east-sider,” Kruger said.

Kruger takes over from Interim Director Kate Evans. He relinquishes the director roles in Mount Vernon and Puyallup to take the role at TFREC.

He serves on numerous high-profile committees and boards, such as the Washington Food Policy Forum, Washington Department of Natural Resources Climate Resiliency Advisory Committee, Cascadian Innovation Corridor Ag Sector Committee (co-chair), and WSU’s Future Forward Campus and Locations Operations Working Group, Kruger brings a breadth of knowledge and experience to TFREC.

Located within the city limits of Wenatchee and comprised of some 30 acres, the TFREC hosts 12 WSU faculty and five USDA‐ARS scientists who conduct research and outreach on annual and perennial specialty crops, while placing a primary emphasis on apple, pear, and cherry. Represented disciplines include entomology, horticulture, plant physiology, plant pathology, and soil biology. There are also administrative staff and farm and facilities personnel, 11 visiting scientists and post-doctoral researchers, 20 technical support staff, 23 graduate students and several summer interns associated with research and extension programs.

Kruger is eager to start in his new position on the Wenatchee campus, but is also mindful that a seamless transition is vital to the well-being and stability for all three of the centers, especially given the challenging times we are currently in.

“It’s essential that the hand-off of leadership is done as carefully and thoughtfully as possible, now more than ever,” he said.

Kruger will begin on July 1.

“Chad will be an invaluable asset at the Wenatchee campus,” said André-Denis Wright, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “The stewardship, vision, and leadership he cultivated at Mount Vernon and Puyallup will be vital resources to the faculty, staff, and students at the Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center.”

His experience directing two research and Extension centers affords Kruger with a unique insight into the functionality of these campuses and the director’s role within these structures.

“Yes, part of the role of the director is to help the faculty on these campuses envision, articulate, and execute a strategic plan that has purpose and programmatic features, but the director’s role is leadership for facilities and operations to support that shared vision and strategic plan,” he said.

Kruger added that the responsibility of a center’s programs—whether it’s research, Extension, or academic—really resides with the faculty and the departments.

“The director’s job at these centers is to facilitate a conversation to make sure you first have a shared vision within the faculty, and then you can focus on fund development, facilities development, and operational capacity to execute that vision,” he said.

Personally, Kruger is looking forward to returning to his roots on the eastern side of the state.

“I always knew my time on the west side would be temporary,” he said. “This position brings me full circle and I’m really looking forward to meeting the challenges and opportunities that await me.”