Jun 18, 2019
University of Florida’s agriculture department head Payne to retire

W. Kent Fuchs, president of the University of Florida, said in an administrative memo issued June 14 that Jack Payne announced his plans to retire from his position as senior vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the school.

“I am writing to thank Jack for his leadership of IFAS and also share early information on the search for his replacement.

Jack Payne

This summer, Dr. Payne completes nine years of IFAS leadership. I am fortunate to have worked with Jack for half of that time and have observed firsthand his commitment, passion, and love for IFAS, our university and state of Florida. I look forward to celebrating Jack’s tenure in the coming months.

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Perri, dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions, will serve as chair of the committee that will advise me on the search. Melissa Curry, assistant vice president of UF Human Resources, will serve as the search consultant for the committee.

If you have input on the recommended qualifications for candidates, names of excellent potential candidates or suggestions for members of the search committee, please contact Melissa Curry at
[email protected]. In addition to Melissa Curry and the search chair, Dean Perri, I also welcome your input on all aspects of the search.  As with previous cabinet-level searches, we plan to provide opportunities for campus input on finalists when we reach that stage.

Our plan is to search nationally and to appoint the very best possible individual to this important senior leadership position. We also plan to move quickly and to name someone as soon as possible.

We will communicate as the search process proceeds and expect the next communication to include the search committee membership.”

A June 17 story in the Gainesville Sun, reported the following:

“Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, plans to retire next June.

The top agriculture official at the University of Florida plans to retire within the next year.

Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, plans to retire next June. UF President Kent Fuchs released an administrative memo on Friday announcing Payne’s retirement and that UF officials will start a search for his replacement.

In his role at UF, Payne oversees the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. IFAS makes up a large part of the university’s footprint across the state.

It has 16 on-campus academic departments and schools, 12 research and education centers throughout the state and UF/IFAS extension offices in all 67 Florida counties.

Under his leadership, the university has spent millions of dollars on citrus greening research. Payne said while there’s a long way to go to save the citrus industry that’s been devastated by greening, he believes citrus trees are safer now than they were 10 years ago.

IFAS also fortified the university’s bee research under Payne’s leadership by building its new honey bee headquarters/research center on the UF campus. It also built the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station, which according to IFAS, aims to enhance the conservation and sustainability of natural resources throughout Cedar Key.

During Payne’s tenure, IFAS also started an industrial hemp research pilot project. Additionally, funding for research projects from federal, state and private sources at IFAS hit a record $166 million in fiscal year 2017-2018, according to the UF/IFAS Research office. The total of $166 million was up 54 percent from the $107 million received in 2016-2017.

Payne, who has served in his role for nine years at UF, said at 72, it’s time to retire.

“Most people my age are retired,” Payne said. “When (former UF president) Bernie (Machen) hired me, I told him I’d give him 10 years.”

Payne said announcing his retirement a year before his 10-year commitment is satisfied gives the university time to pull a search committee together to find his replacement.

“Our plan is to search nationally and to appoint the very best possible individual to this important senior leadership position,” Fuchs wrote in the memo to administrators. “We also plan to move quickly and to name someone as soon as possible.”

Michael Perri, dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions, will chair the search committee. Melissa Curry, assistant vice president for UF Human Resources, will serve as the committee’s search consultant.

“It’s a big job. You’re overseeing 2,000 faculty and last year my total expenditures were about $400 million,” Payne said. “You don’t want to tell them at the last minute. If I retire a year from now, they can put together a search committee and have the position filled by the time I leave.”

Fuchs lauded Payne in the memo, commending his commitment to his post.

“I am fortunate to have worked with Jack for half of that time and have observed firsthand his commitment, passion, and love for IFAS, our university and state of Florida,” Fuchs wrote.

Prior to UF, Payne worked as the vice president for extension and outreach at Iowa State University, vice president and dean for extension at Utah State, and as a faculty member at the Penn State University School of Forest Resources and at Texas A&M University’s Fisheries and Wildlife Department.”

For more on the story, visit here.

 





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