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Dean Wendy Powers joins College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Published on August 15, 2022
Powers at wheat field
Wendy Powers, the first Cashup Davis Family Endowed Dean, joined WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences on Aug. 15, 2022. Above, she visits the college’s Spillman Agronomy Farm at Pullman (Robert Hubner/WSU Photo)

Joining Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences on Aug. 15, 2022, Wendy Powers is the inaugural Cashup Davis Family Endowed Dean.

Powers is an experienced leader who previously guided statewide agricultural research and extension for the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Dr. Powers draws from a deep well of experience in leading the land-grant mission,” said WSU Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton, who announced Powers’ selection earlier this year following a national search. “She embodies that mission through her collaborative work with agricultural producers and research peers nationwide. Her demonstrated success in fostering academic excellence, resilient partnerships, and community engagement across many states makes her ideally suited to lead this college into the future.”

Powers said she’s honored to be part of the CAHNRS story.

“Discovery in this college touches all corners of Washington, and I am excited by the opportunity to harness that potential,” she said. “What’s really drawing me is the chance to make a difference for all Washingtonians by supporting advancements and sharing new ideas in agriculture, natural resources, and the human sciences.”

Statewide partnership builder

As the associate vice president for the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Powers led academic, research, and outreach programs for the University of California beginning in  2016. She built partnerships within and beyond the university, and oversaw county-based cooperative extension outreach, 12 statewide programs and institutes, and nine research and extension centers across California.

Powers began her career as an assistant professor and extension specialist in animal science at Iowa State University, then moved to Michigan State University, where she served as a full professor in the departments of Animal Science and Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering, extension specialist, and director of environmental stewardship for animal agriculture in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She was also the first director of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute for Michigan State University Extension.

As a scientist, Powers linked research discovery with outreach to the livestock industry, providing knowledge and tools to help producers reduce their environmental impacts while staying competitive and meeting growing consumer demand. She holds a doctorate in animal science and a master’s degree in dairy science from the University of Florida, and a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Cornell University.

Powers replaces former Dean André-Denis Wright, who led the college from 2018 to 2021. Interim Dean Richard T. Koenig oversaw CAHNRS from mid-2021 to August 2022.

The CAHNRS mission

The Cashup Davis Family Endowed Dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences is named for 19th century Palouse pioneer James S. “Cashup” Davis. The $5 million endowment, created by Cashup’s great-grandson and WSU alumnus Gordon W. Davis, enhances academic and research endeavors in CAHNRS that reflect the Davis family’s innovative, entrepreneurial spirit. The fund also builds a culture of philanthropy among CAHNRS students, alumni, and friends.

CAHNRS shares WSU research and discovery with Washington through an expansive state presence, with 12 schools and departments, three Extension Program Units, four Research and Extension Centers, and Extension offices serving all 39 counties as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

Innovation in CAHNRS creates healthy communities, families, and children, sustains the economy and the environment, and continually advances the science and practice of agriculture, helping feed a growing world populace. In fiscal year 2021, CAHNRS secured research funding exceeding $83 million, accounting for more than 23% of WSU’s total extramural research funding.