Dan Arp, whose belief that “food is the handshake between urban and rural” was reflected during his tenure as dean of Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, will retire next June.
Oregon State announced the move in an Aug. 10 news release. Arp was appointed dean in 2012 after his predecessor, the colorful Sonny Ramaswamy, was picked by President Obama to head the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Washington, D.C.
Under Arp’s direction, OSU continued broadening its agricultural offerings beyond conventional crop and livestock production. Students have a Fermentation Science program at their disposal, and can learn how to make beer, wine, cheese, yogurt and more kinds of food. A Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems within OSU Extension reaches producers and processors who might have been overlooked before.
The Oregon Wine Research Institute is a partnership between OSU and the state’s celebrated industry. OSU’s Food Innovation Center in Portland is a rare ag experiment station in an urban setting. College of ag enrollment is at a record of about 2,600 students, and OSU’s agriculture and forestry programs were rated 13th best among world universities.
During Arp’s time, Oregon’s economy recovered and the Legislature provided funding for 25 new positions. Fundraising and private gifts brought in $40 million.
Ramaswamy said his successor brought a sense of “scholarly enterprise” to the College of Ag. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to have top notch science to help agriculture,” he said.
To top it off, Arp also was the beneficiary of a $25 million restoration of Strand Hall, home of OSU’s ag program for the past century. The work, planned and funded before he was named dean, nonetheless returned the 115,000-square-foot building to its place as a campus centerpiece.
“It’s been a good run,” Arp said.
He said he’s proud of his work and the timing of retirement feels right. Looking back, he hopes his OSU colleagues and the state’s producers and other stakeholders will remember him as a good collaborator, someone they enjoyed working with.
Arp said OSU has developed a broad “soil to shelf” approach in its agricultural programs.
“That’s something I’ve continued to try to foster,” he said. “We are an incredibly diverse college, and part of that is a reflection of the diversity of food, ag and natural resources in the state.”
He praised the ag college’s faculty and researchers, saying they understand the importance of engaging the public in what they do.
“These folks would be stars at any university,” Arp said.
“The students, too,” he said. “They’re really quite amazing. They are passionate about what they do; they’re here for all the right reasons.”
Arp started at OSU in a botany and plant pathology position in 1990 and later headed the department and was named a “distinguished professor.” In 2008 he was named dean of the University Honors College, and four years later returned to the College of Agriculture.