Bill Braunworth named head of OSU's horticulture December 2013; he assumed office as interim head in 2012.

Bill Braunworth has been named as head of Oregon State University's department of horticulture on a full-time basis, as of December 2013, following a national search.

"It's quite an honor," Braunworth said. "It requires the buy-in of a lot of people, including faculty, as well as the deans of the College of Agricultural Sciences."

He assumed the office as interim head in August 2012, when Anita Azarenko left to become associate dean of OSU's graduate school. The department of horticulture is part of the College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Bill is a very thoughtful, deliberative individual who the faculty of horticulture must have confidence in if they selected him," Azarenko said.

From 1992 until 2012, Braunworth was head of the agricultural sciences and natural resources extension program. The program, which is part of the OSU extension service, has programs serving citizens across the state.

The program has faced several budget cuts over the past 20 years, and Braunworth has dealt with many of them first-hand over his tenure leading the program.

"I've been through more cuts than adds as program leader over the past two decades," Braunworth said. "I think a very important contribution to the program was that I dealt with (the cuts) in a way that minimized damage to the program and its faculty and staff."

There are some things that Braunworth would like to see improved in the horticulture department, including better student engagement and an increased amount of hands-on education offered in classes to students.

"Hands-on education we can provide in some of our courses," Braunworth said. "It should complement the theoretical education. We need both."

Braunworth continued to emphasize the importance of diversifying funding sources for the department, and cites insufficient funds as the greatest challenge he anticipates in his new role.

"Student numbers are rising, while resources are not," Braunworth said. "We've got to find ways to handle the increased student load with less funding, and that comes back to diversifying the funding base."

Braunworth came to OSU in 1983 as a graduate student, and received his Ph.D. in horticulture in 1986. When he started in 1986 after receiving his Ph.D., Braunworth served as an "extension weed specialist."

"I would go to farmer meetings (as an extension weed specialist), and explain the latest technology regarding weed control," Braunworth said. "I did a lot of on-site community-based teaching."

Between 1986 and 1992, when Braunworth took over as head of the extension program, he spent more than three years in Malawi. His office in the Agricultural and Life Sciences Building has a display of large masks from Malawi.

While Braunworth was in Malawi, a lot of horticultural researchers from the country were coming to OSU to get degrees. He went to Malawi to fill in for them.

Braunworth received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Colorado State University. He became an extension agent for the southeastern section of Colorado after receiving his master's degree, and came to OSU after working on an international assignment in Egypt, where he met OSU faculty.

His area of specialty when it comes to research is related to the water use of crops, general crop production and weed control and management.

Vinay Ramakrishnan

News reporter

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