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Q&A With Dean Garey Fox

Get to know Garey Fox, the new dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

CALS Dean Garey Fox stands with a drone Play Video
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Garey Fox. Video by Chris Liotta.

What are your initial goals as dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences?

One of the most important goals is making connections with people and understanding where there are opportunities for growth. A primary goal will be to continue the strong partnerships we have with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, NC Farm Bureau, and our industry and commodity groups within North Carolina.

I am participating in a listening tour across the state where I can learn about all of the issues facing our agriculture and life sciences industries and how NC State can play an even greater role.

I’m going to find ways to provide resources, both internally and externally, to help our fantastic faculty, staff and students succeed and be more efficient and effective in their roles. I’m interested in engaging with students as much as possible and in putting together student advisory panels to help lead the college.

I will also be visiting the incredible network of research stations we have within the state. I’m passionate about making sure that we help those research stations by improving facilities and bringing in new technology.

We need to continue to support the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative and translate the great research at the Plant Sciences Building to our stakeholders, to really make a difference in the lives of citizens across North Carolina.

We have an incredible opportunity to re-energize the vision for the Food Animal Initiative. How can we invest in and promote food-animal agriculture research, extension and teaching at NC State? Animal agriculture is such an important part of our agricultural industry.

What changes do you see on the horizon?

A digital revolution is happening right now, and it’s coming to agriculture and life sciences. We’ve already started to invest in artificial intelligence, data science and data analytics in CALS, but when you look at ChatGPT and open AI platforms, it’s going to revolutionize what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, not only in research but also in extension and teaching.

You’ve worked jointly with the College of Engineering on the undergraduate programs in agricultural and biological engineering. Will you seek out new partnerships as dean?

One of the things that I’m excited about, based on that success, is building even stronger partnerships with not only the College of Engineering but all of our colleges at NC State.

For example, how do we best interface with the College of Veterinary Medicine as part of the Food Animal Initiative? How do we better partner with the colleges of Sciences, Natural Resources, Textiles, Design, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Education, as examples, on important issues facing agriculture within North Carolina?

When you consider the complexity of the food and agricultural system, the challenges are incredibly complex, and they’re going to require transdisciplinary expertise and efforts. We also need to recruit the very best students into CALS to help us solve these complex challenges.

What were your experiences with agriculture growing up?

I grew up on a beef cattle and wheat farm in a very small town named Godley, Texas. I graduated with a class of 35 students and was heavily involved in FFA, including traveling the state of Texas judging dairy cows, which provided so many opportunities to build leadership and public speaking skills. I’m a big supporter of youth educational activities like FFA and 4-H.

I was a first-generation college student, and it was a shock, coming from a town of maybe 600 people, to walk into a chemistry class of 250 students at Texas A&M University. But the thing I could control, that was a part of my fabric from growing up on a farm, was hard work. It’s hard to outwork me, and I plan on using that work ethic as the dean of CALS.

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