Drive to Distinction: The First Two Years

Together we are driving to distinction

Dear Friends of CAFNR:

Hard to believe, but it’s two years since my family and I located to Columbia, Missouri. When contemplating the move, I felt drawn to Mizzou and the people of Missouri. Although there have been difficult and challenging days as Vice Chancellor and Dean for the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, I know the right decision was made, and I am exactly where I am supposed to be and doing exactly what I was intended to do. My days have been full of meaning and purpose, as I know that together we can better our state and our communities, for our people.

During my interview for the CAFNR dean position, I shared that my hire would lead to a different college within two years. In fact, my interview presentation was titled “Drive to Distinction.” In my office, I have numerous reminders of the intentions shared in my application letter and throughout my interview. These publicly displayed details still help guide every decision I make as vice chancellor and dean.

One of the enlarged, framed interview presentation slides hanging in my office is titled D.R.I.V.E. TO DISTINCTION, with each letter in the acronym defining my intentions:

D – Developing a united strategic plan

R – Recruiting world class talent

I – Investing in signature programs

V – Valuing students and stakeholders

E – Enhancing Missouri’s agriculture and natural resource economy

I am happy to share that we have made progress in all of these areas, becoming a stronger organization, with a focus on inclusivity and compassion for all Missourians.

D. – In these two years, we created a shared vision and a plan for moving our college into the future. Our strategic plan was launched April 1, 2019, and the priorities, programs and goals it describes will bring great distinction to CAFNR.

R. – In spite of an unofficial faculty hiring freeze, the college has collaborated with division directors to creatively fund faculty positions that will lead us into the future. Over the past two years, the college has welcomed a number of talented new faculty and staff. More critical hires are needed, but we have made progress recruiting excellence into our programs.

I. – We announced the inaugural class of CAFNR’s Programs of Distinction in parallel with our strategic plan. These seven programs have a recognized brand with national and/or international reputations. As programs of distinction, they have access to support and operational assistance that will enable their continued impact to Missouri, the nation and the globe.

V. – Without question, the cornerstone of CAFNR is our commitment to the student experience. As CAFNR’s No. 1 stakeholder, students are our first priority, and our strategic plan is dedicated to ensuring their success. Our students are the future for the industries we serve. The state deserves a trained workforce, and CAFNR does a tremendous job in filling that talent pipeline.

E. – Lastly, our college is an engine that helps the top industries in Missouri – agriculture and tourism – remain profitable and viable. The Show-Me-State Food, Beverage and Forest Products Manufacturing Initiative, a grand idea identified in our strategic plan, is helping unite the ag and natural resource industries across Missouri in an effort to expand the economic impacts derived from our fields, farms, forests and factories.

A steadfast commitment to the land-grant mission of teaching, research and Extension is foundational to what we do, but our college is capable of delivering so much more to the University and Missouri as we work, shoulder to shoulder, with our partners. Much of my time is dedicated to strengthening those partnerships with stakeholders both inside and outside of Columbia and Missouri. None of us can be successful independently. In fact, we build connections and friendships during good times so that when challenging times occur, our partners are by our side.

CAFNR is a special college, and has the expertise and an obligation to help better our state for its residents. I am, and will continue to be, dedicated to our college, and to Missouri’s students, partners and citizens, as together we Drive to Distinction.

Christopher R. Daubert, Ph.D.

Vice Chancellor and Dean