Others Chime In

The folks over at Grist have a post up.

The highlights

Seedy business: A sustainable-ag champion gets plowed under at Iowa State

Plunked down in the land of huge, chemical-addicted grain farms and the nation’s greatest concentration of hog feedlots, Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has always had a tough row to hoe. […]

Now, however, a sudden purge at the top has called the Center’s much-prized independence from industrial agriculture into question. […]

Last Friday, the college issued a press release announcing that the Leopold Center’s director of five years, Fred Kirschenmann, had “accepted a new leadership role as a distinguished fellow of the center.” […]

Kirschenmann himself, however, tells a more interesting tale than what’s contained in the press release’s bland prose. He says his move from director to “distinguished fellow” came suddenly and without his own input.

“On Wednesday [Oct. 26] I received a letter from the interim dean asking me to resign by Friday and decide by then if I would accept the position of distinguished fellow at the center,” Kirschenmann told me yesterday.

“I wrote her [the interim dean] back telling her I thought she was moving too fast, that there wouldn’t be time for a smooth transition. She wrote back that it was a done deal — she had already named a new director.”

Kirschenmann says the interim dean, Wendy Wintersteen, had been on Leopold’s advisory board for years and had served on the search committee that hired him in 2000. “She was always very supportive of what we were doing,” Kirschenmann says. “Until about two years ago. Then she became very critical.”

Her critique centered on the idea that in its work the Leopold Center was neglecting “key stakeholders,” Kirschenmann adds. “But she never really clarified who those stakeholders were.”

Might she have been refering to agribusiness interests? “You can draw your own conclusions,” Kirschenmann says. […]

Read the whole post over at Grist.

2 Replies to “Others Chime In”

  1. As an alumnus, colleage, friend and fellow North Dakotan, I am distressed over the dismissal of Fred Kirschenmann. The reasons given by Dean Wintersteen for the dismissal were short sighted, parochial, and disingenuous.

  2. As a alumnus, friend, colleague, and fellow North Dakotan, I am distressed over the dismissal of Fred as director of the Leopold Center. The reasons given by Dean Wintersteen were short sighted, parochial, and disingenuous. I had expected bettter of my alma mater, but I guess the old gang of industrial agriculture runs the college of agriculture.

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