Green Industry Familiar Turf for New IFAS VP

Dr. Scott Angle, Vice President for Ag & Natural Resources
University of Florida/IFAS

 

Turf science wasn’t my first love. Golf was. When I was growing up, I aspired to be a pro. When I discovered late in high school I probably would not be able to make a living playing golf, I decided the next best thing would be to make a living working at a golf course. I started working summers and weekends at a course.

The state’s golf course superintendent’s association rewarded me with a modest scholarship to attend the University of Maryland. It prompted me to take a couple of turf science courses, and that became my major for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I went on to become a soil scientist and an administrator. But I’ve never lost my intellectual appreciation for the science at play underneath a putting green or backyard lawn.

Working for public land-grant universities has made turf more important to me on principle as well. I’ve worked at the University of Maryland and as dean of the University of Georgia’s college of agriculture.  In July, I became leader of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Land-grant universities are the people’s universities. What’s more of a people’s crop than grass? As leader of the discovery and innovation arm of Florida agriculture, I work for you. Here’s how I’ll do it:

I’ll listen. I’m a servant leader. At first, I’ll do a lot more listening than talking. I want to know what you want and need. For example, it didn’t take me long to recognize the value in the turf weed scientist position in Gainesville and to authorize filling it as  an exception to the university’s hiring pause.

I’ll be your champion. I’ll help tell your story everywhere, whether it’s here in Clippings or in Washington. My relationships with former colleagues I led at the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue (he was governor of Georgia while I was dean) give me an understanding of how Washington works. I intend to apply that understanding for Florida’s benefit. I’ve already met with our researchers to encourage more and more innovative ways to successfully apply for USDA funding.

I’ll support faculty and staff in giving you the tools to succeed. I am currently advocating for UF/IFAS as one of the best investments the University of Florida can make from its $70 million artificial intelligence initiative. We need to put more real-time decision-making tools in your hands that make sense of the immense amount of data you have access to. AI can merge those data streams into recommendations and action items.

I’ll provide for the future workforce. I will increase opportunity for experiential learning—undergraduate research, study abroad, internships and mentoring. You may have heard me talk about the VP’s Promise, a fundraising opportunity so no student misses out on these experiences for lack of means. This will produce more work-ready graduates with real-world experience, basic literacy in AI, leadership skills and technical abilities.

Please call on me or UF/IFAS whenever there’s something we can do for you. That’s why we’re here. We work for you.