MESSAGE FROM THE DEPARTMENT CHAIR
Our department now seems to be the only Department of Soil Science in the US. Departments at other universities across the country (as well as in many other countries) have been merged, relabeled or closed. Some of the merged and relabeled departments have been more successful than others, but in several cases it seems to have resulted in diluted – if not decreased – soil science capacity. Fortunately, we have been able to maintain our strong research, teaching and extension because of the support from the College and University which values the relevance of our work and the importance of soil science for the judicious management of the earth’s soil resources.
Naturally, we are aware of the necessity for adaption and change, but most of that need is driven by our determination to remain at the frontiers of the soil science discipline. The department aspires to grow on all fronts for we continue to deliver essential expertise for the college as well the university. We have set ambitious but realistic goals for the coming five years that include, for example, the development of new high enrollment courses, hiring of new faculty, develop a revenue generating Professional Masters Program, and growing the Environmental Science Major. Our soil science courses are well-subscribed and our students (we graduate more MS and PhDs than BS students) all find jobs fairly promptly. Research funds are always tight and competition is stiff, but our research is quite well-funded which reflects the demand for good soil science. We are extremely grateful for all the alumni donations, most of which are being used for student fellowships or research support. We like to invest in people for little science, teaching and outreach is done without them.
Soil science at University of Wisconsin-Madison was started in 1889. From a scientific point of view, we are scratching the surface of our understanding, and we know that there is much to be discovered and even more to be learned. Every day we work on that, and realize that we were the first department of soils in the US. Now, almost 130 years later we are the first again. The soil science discipline is vibrant and thriving; our future is bright!
Season’s greetings and best wishes for 2019 from all of us in soils in Madison. Alfred Hartemink, Chair
To access the rest of Vol. 10, No. 1 of “Profiles,” https://uwmadison.box.com/s/g6s94jzelpwy3fbdngym03kikvqqylaw