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Robert Easter named dean of College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences


Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor
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Robert A. Easter
Robert A. Easter was named the dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences July 18. He has served as interim dean since August 2001

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Robert A. Easter today was named the dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has served as interim dean since August 2001. His appointment was approved by the board of trustees at its meeting in Springfield.

Easter, an expert in swine nutrition, was chosen from candidates who were considered during a nationwide search for a new dean. He joined the Illinois faculty in 1976, and he had served from September 1996 to August 2001 as the head of the department of animal sciences.

Easter, 55, replaces David L. Chicoine, who was the dean from April 1996 to July 2001, when he was named university vice president for economic development and corporate relations.

"It has been a pleasure working closely with Bob over the past year and getting to know him," said Nancy Cantor, the chancellor of the Urbana campus. "He has great support among the agricultural community, and I look forward to all he'll accomplish as dean."

As dean, Easter said, he will continue to build on the leadership of Chicoine, who built strong relationships with off-campus communities. He also wants to assure that the college continues to rank among the top five nationally in every discipline covered under its umbrella. A new challenge, he noted, is a non-traditional demand for agricultural expertise.

"We are seeing more and more people engaged in agricultural pursuits in urban settings than we did in the past," Easter said. "More people are involved in such things as horticulture, gardening and urban forestry than ever before. I think we have to ask ourselves how do we build upon the knowledge base we have from our traditional engagement of agricultural education to serve a much more broader clientele."

Easter earned his bachelor's (in agricultural education) and master's (animal nutrition) degrees in 1970 and 1972, respectively, from Texas A&M University in College Station and a doctoral degree in animal science in 1976 from Illinois.

"As department head, Bob ensured that (the department of) animal sciences was the best in the nation," said Richard Herman, the provost of the Urbana campus. "He understands excellence in many forms, as well as the college’s mission. The support he received from all segments of the campus and community was overwhelming."

Easter will continue to hold the rank of professor in the department of animal sciences and in the division of nutritional sciences. His name has appeared as an author on more than 175 peer-reviewed academic journal articles, research abstracts for scientific meetings and professional reports. He also has written 25 swine nutrition articles for publication in the popular press.

Easter also has been the coordinator and a lecturer at numerous swine-nutrition short courses in China and Costa Rica. From 1993 to 1995, he served as adviser and trainer for model swine farms in Byelorussia, Russia and the Ukraine. He also has been a guest lecturer at a variety of academic and professional seminars around the world and a consultant to 16 major agricultural related companies and associations.

He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1972, and he completed 20 years of U.S. Army Reserve service in 1992 having earned the rank of major.