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Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Apply now Job no: 533896
Work type: Management (MPP)
Location: San Luis Obispo
Categories: MPP, Administrative, At-Will, Full Time


California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) seeks a highly collaborative and entrepreneurial leader with the ability to build distinct connections with industry to serve as the next dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). Nestled among nearly 10,000 acres of some of the most fertile soil in the United States on the Central Coast of California, CAFES boasts one of the nation’s most prestigious undergraduate agricultural programs at a polytechnic institution that inspires whole system thinkers to serve California and solve global challenges. The dean will build on the successful reputation of Cal Poly and CAFES to reach new levels of distinction and national prominence while supporting their renowned “Learn by Doing” philosophy. 

Job Summary


The dean reports directly to the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and is the lead academic and administrative officer for the college. The dean leads and executes strategic planning and visioning for the college. The dean provides support for the faculty of CAFES by creating a positive environment for teaching, scholarship and professional engagement, and service to the University and community. The dean is also expected to foster a healthy organizational culture for that enables the recruitment and retention of diverse and talented faculty, staff, and students. The dean is responsible for the quality of academic programs and for managing the fiscal resources, human resources, and the physical facilities of CAFES. The dean is expected to build partnerships with alumni and the business community, ensuring a close alignment around academic and industry needs, and will provide supplemental financial support for both new and existing programs. As the chief spokesperson for the college, the dean will foster deeper connections with industry, government officials, and leaders across campus to build mutually beneficial partnerships. 

The dean oversees an administrative team composed of a senior associate dean, two associate deans, two assistant deans, and 10 department heads and manages a complex budget of more than $31 million. CAFES includes approximately 90 tenure-track faculty, 90 lecturers, 4 ROTC faculty, and 80 staff. 


Since 1901, agricultural programs at Cal Poly have used the Learn by Doing approach to prepare leaders in sustainable agriculture, food systems, and environmental and life sciences who are prepared to address challenges related to food security and meet increasing environmental demands at both the state and global level. Students have access to laboratories in a broad variety of disciplines as well as to vast ranchland, orchards, vineyards, and forest. These laboratories and living laboratories provide extensive Learn by Doing opportunities, which are supplemented by a curriculum informed by close connections with industry leaders. Given Cal Poly’s polytechnic emphasis and its location in California, the #1 ranked state for agricultural production with a $45-50 billion industry that produces over 400 agricultural commodities, the institution is ripe ground for preparing students to be future leaders in their fields. 

CAFES is globally recognized as a center of excellence in applied sciences through responsive scholarship, leadership, and service to others. With 4,200 students enrolled, CAFES has the fifth-largest undergraduate enrollment in agriculture and renewable resources programs in the nation. In addition, the college ranked fifth in the nation for agriculture degrees awarded to Latinx/e students, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education

CAFES has nine undergraduate departments that offer 15 individual majors and 22 minors. Departments include: Agribusiness, Agricultural Education and Communication, Animal Science, BioResource and Agricultural Engineering, Experience Industry Management, Food Science and Nutrition, Military Science, Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences, Plant Sciences, and Wine and Viticulture. In addition, CAFES offers a Master of Agricultural Education and four Master of Science degrees in Food Science, Nutrition, Environmental Sciences and Management, and Agriculture. The Master of Science in Agriculture has eight specializations: BioResource & Agricultural Systems, Animal Science, Crop Science, Dairy Products Technology, Environmental Horticultural Science, Irrigation, Plant Protection Science, and Water Engineering. 

Professional Qualifications and Personal Attributes

The next dean will have a record of academic accomplishment and administrative experience. An earned doctorate and academic accomplishments appropriate for the rank of Full Professor in one of the academic disciplines of CAFES are required. The dean will also have a proven record of engaging with industry leaders to build meaningful partnerships and support, a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and student success, and the ability to work effectively with the various stakeholders associated with CAFES, including academic leaders across Cal Poly. 

The ideal candidate will also possess many, if not all, of the following qualifications and characteristics: 

  • Experience in crafting and leading an entrepreneurial vision and strategy 
  • Demonstrated experience and commitment to supporting the teacher-scholar model and faculty research and scholarship, particularly of the applied nature 
  • Demonstrated commitment to the importance of hands-on experiences for students and an enthusiasm for Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy 
  • The ability to work effectively with a diverse campus community and to support inclusive excellence for faculty, staff, and students 
  • Demonstrated experience expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic programs and developing new programs in support of DEI goals 
  • Demonstrated commitment to and a record of being a good university citizen and working towards shared goals with a variety of university partners 
  • Demonstrated experience with initiatives that support student success 
  • Demonstrated ability to manage resources effectively in a complex environment, an aptitude for fundraising, and the ability to develop partnerships and secure external support for programs, facilities, and personnel 
  • Understanding of the value of industry relations and a clear commitment to maintaining and enhancing relationships with a diversity of industry partners 
  • An understanding of physical facilities and equipment needs within an agricultural and natural resources environment, and a strategic approach to managing limited resources 
  • Demonstrated ability to cultivate a strong team of leaders who can ensure the effective management of a complex organization 
  • A deep appreciation for and broad knowledge of agriculture, food, and environmental sciences. An understanding of the diversity of agricultural products in California could be helpful 
  • Experience resolving personnel issues in a complex, unionized environment 
  • Excellent communication skills in a wide range of settings and a transparent, empathetic leadership style that fosters community building and augments partnerships 

Applications, Inquiries, and Nominations

Screening of complete applications will begin immediately and continue until the completion of the search process. Applicants should complete their applications and submit their CVs and cover letters directly with Cal Poly. Inquiries, nominations, and referrals should be sent to Isaacson, Miller via their website for the search.  Electronic submission of materials is required.

Salary and Benefits

The anticipated salary range for the position is $260,000-$300,000. Cal Poly is located in San Luis Obispo, California, a coastal city hallway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The San Luis Obispo community is nestled close to the Pacific Ocean, has a population of over 46,000, and is an area with an extraordinary quality of life and a temperate, Mediterranean climate that is comfortable year-round. The economy is based largely on agriculture and tourism and the region is known for producing world-class wine. 

Cal Poly offers a best-in-class benefits program, including health, dental and vision insurance, retirement participation in the Public Employees' Retirement System, and educational benefits for eligible employees. See our benefits website for additional information. 

Cal Poly

Cal Poly is a nationally-ranked public university located in San Luis Obispo, California, and known for its Learn by Doing philosophy. Each year more than 20,000 top-tier students come to San Luis Obispo to put knowledge into action, taking their learning outside the classroom as they prepare for careers in engineering, agriculture, science, business, humanities and the built environment. Cal Poly’s hands-on philosophy, small class sizes and close student-faculty mentorships result in graduates ready from day one to impact their communities, California and the world. For more information, visit

Diversity Statement

At Cal Poly, we believe that cultivating an environment that embraces and promotes diversity is fundamental to the success of our students, our employees and our community. Bringing people together from different backgrounds, experiences and value systems fosters the innovative and creative thinking that exemplifies Cal Poly's values of free inquiry, cultural and intellectual diversity, mutual respect, civic engagement, and social and environmental responsibility.

Cal Poly's commitment to diversity informs our efforts in recruitment, hiring and retention. Cal Poly is an equal opportunity employer. 

Supplemental Information

Following a conditional offer of employment, a background check (including a criminal records check) must be completed satisfactorily before any candidate may start work with Cal Poly. Failure to satisfactorily complete the background check may result in the withdrawal of the offer of employment. Current employees who are offered positions on campus will be required to undergo a background check for any position where a background check is required by law or that Cal Poly has designated as sensitive.

The person holding this position is considered a 'mandated reporter' under the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act and is required to comply with the requirements set forth in CSU Executive Order 1083 as a condition of employment.

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo is not a sponsoring agency for staff positions (i.e. H-1B visas).

Positions are posted for a minimum of 14 calendar days.

Advertised: Pacific Standard Time
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