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UW-RF Rohde Retiring From Agriculture Dean's Office

December 10, 1998

Gary Rohde, the long-time dean of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences at UW-River Falls, has announced his retirement from the University.

The former Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture announced his decision in a letter to Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau on Dec. 2 and informed the College faculty this week. The retirement will take effect on July 31.

"My association with the University has been a very rewarding and a professionally satisfying experience. I have been extremely pleased and proud of my association with UW-River Falls since the mid-60's. It has been an honor to have served the past 18 years as the Dean," Rohde wrote Thibodeau.

In his announcement to the faculty, he noted:

"In leaving the College at the end of this academic year, I feel that it has a strong complement of undergraduate programs, an excellent faculty and staff, an enthusiastic student body, and a high degree of visibility with employers and alumni who have supported our efforts. I have worked hard to build on the many accomplishments of my predecessors and believe the College is recognized as having an excellent reputation for quality academic programs and graduates."

A native of Greenwood, Wis., Rohde taught vocational agriculture at Colby high school for three years, then earned his master's and doctorate in agricultural economics at UW-Madison and joined the faculty at UW-RF in 1966.

For the next decade he taught classes, served as an extension marketing specialist and as assistant dean before he was tapped by the State Board of Agriculture and former Gov. Patrick Lucey to serve as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. For nearly six years Rohde held the position as head of the 800-member department responsible for the state's agricultural programs and policies.

He returned to the University as dean in 1981 following the death of Dean James Dollahon.

At UW-RF, Rohde is responsible for overseeing the second largest undergraduate non-land grant agriculture program in the nation. With 14 academic programs, two laboratory farms and 70 faculty and staff, it educates some 1,350 students each year.

In addition to his many administrative duties, Rohde also continued to teach classes, including agricultural law and cooperatives.

Presently, he is coordinating his fundraising efforts to obtain $400,000 in private sector donations for a proposed $2.8 million Dairy Teaching Center at UW-RF.

His stewardship of agriculture issues in Wisconsin have earned him numerous citations. At UW-RF he was recognized with the University's highest honor of Distinguished Teacher, received the Cooperative Builder Award from the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives, was awarded an Honorary Wisconsin FFA Degree, and was cited for distinguished service by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

Thibodeau greeted Rhode's decision with praise for his leadership both in the University and for the Wisconsin agricultural community.

"For 18 years Gary Rohde has provided exceptional leadership as Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Science. He is recognized nationally as a leader in the broad field of agriculture and is considered a pioneer in the creation of cooperative and creative linkages between the University, agribusiness entities, and governmental agencies that impact on rural communities and people.

"Dr. Rohde has made lasting and critically important contributions during his tenure at UW-River Falls. He is a personal friend and colleague and I will miss his good humor, positive outlook, and administrative skills. Of course, his ongoing leadership and involvement in many areas will continue to impact in a positive way on the University and on Wisconsin agriculture after he leaves the Dean's office. I wish him and Helen much happiness and continued success in the years ahead," Thibodeau said.

Rohde indicated he intends to remain in the River Falls area and may be interested in some short-term consulting with regional agribusinesses or governmental agencies, in addition to some part-time teaching activities.

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