Orth selected as dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

November 14, 2022—Michael Orth has been selected as the next dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Orth will begin his tenure as dean on June 1, 2023, succeeding Dale Gallenberg, who retired last month. Dean Olson, interim CAFES dean, will continue to provide leadership to the college through the end of May. 

Michael Orth CAFESIn his role as dean, Orth will provide leadership to a college which has maintained an outstanding reputation for excellence and service since 1912. Ranked as one of the top undergraduate agricultural programs in the nation, CAFES offers high-demand programs like the ABET-accredited agricultural engineering and environmental engineering and is home to one of the largest dairy science programs in the nation. Other popular programs in the college span from agricultural education to conservation, horticulture and agricultural business. 

“Dr. Orth has the ideal skillset and experience for this position," said David Travis, provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at UW-River Falls.  

Orth has been a faculty member at Texas Tech University in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, where he also served as department chair for eight years. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at Michigan State University. Throughout his career he has been active as a researcher on livestock species and has been a dedicated service-provider to his profession, including serving as an officer for the National Block & Bridle organization for 11 years with the last three as president.  

“I am beyond excited to serve as the next dean of CAFES,” said Orth. “The focus of the college on experiential learning, community outreach, and applied research align with the values I believe are critical for this generation of students.”  

Orth’s experience developing new curriculum and co-curricular programming for his students is well-aligned with CAFES areas of excellence and the needs of the greater community. His emphasis on experiential learning makes him an excellent choice for UW-River Falls, where CAFES already exemplifies the institutional ideal of being student-centered. Numerous hands-on learning opportunities are offered on two laboratory farms, through the Ecological Restoration Institute and a renovated Dairy Pilot Plant, as well as through engagement in research with faculty in the Wisconsin Dairy Innovation Hub. Most CAFES students complete internships with employers in the region and are active in dozens of student organizations, clubs and championship judging teams. The college continuously innovates to respond to community and employer needs, with faculty engaged in Extension programs and spearheading unique outreach initiatives, such as the recent development of the Humane Handling Institute, supported by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Meat Talent Development Program.  

“I am looking forward to getting to know faculty, staff, students, alumni and stakeholders and working with all to continue to build on the great reputation this college and university earned and enjoy. It is also fitting for me that my academic journey which began in Madison finds its way back to Wisconsin,” said Orth, who holds a Ph.D. in nutrition sciences from UW-Madison and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Iowa. 

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