During its early years the college was referred to as “The School of Agriculture.” As it expanded in size and diversity, however, its status was elevated to that of a College, and around the mid-1960’s it became known as “The College of Agriculture.” As such the College was administered by its first Dean, Richard Delorit. By the early 1970’s the college very much resembled its present form, consisting of five departments. Agricultural Education was chaired by Marvin Thompson; Agricultural Economics by Vern Elefson; Agricultural Engineering Technology by Gerhardt Bohn, Animal and Food Science by Richard Gray, and Plant and Earth Sciences by Sam Huffman. Delorit was promoted to the Position of Vice Chancellor of the University, and James Dollahon was moved up from the Animal Science Department to become Dean. Gary Rohde, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics served as part-time Assistant Dean. Priscilla Creapo became the office Program Assistant following the death of Laura Johnson in an car accident in 1972.
James Dollahon served as Dean of the College of Agriculture from 1967 until his untimely death in 1980. At the time, Dollahon was scheduled for a one-year sabbatical to work with the Department of Higher Education Programs at the USDA in Washington, DC. He was also taking lessons locally to obtain a private pilot’s license. On the day of a planned send-off party for Dollahon and his family, Jim suffered a heart attack during the course of his flying lesson, and passed away during flight instruction. His instructor landed the plane safely, but there was little that could be done in the way of medical intervention for Jim. His death was a great shock to the campus and the community.
During his time as Dean, Dollahon greatly strengthened the college through a period of rapid growth both in the number of students and through the addition of new programs and faculty positions. He also worked hard to improve working relationships with the other UW-System campuses, including UW-Madison, through research and extension. He was also successful in obtaining grants for international programs and for public conferences and other events sponsored by the college.
Following the death of Dean Dollahon, Roger Swanson became acting Dean. At the same time the Assistant Dean. Gerald “Doc” Matteson was awarded a 12-month sabbatical to train at the U.S. Army War College. Richard Jensen and Stephen Ridley filled his administrative position on a part-time basis. Linda Paulson joined the office staff as a second Program Assistant. The following year saw Swanson selected as the UW-RF Dean of Graduate Studies and Extension, and Gary Rohde was selected as the new Dean following several years absence from the university during which he had served with distinction in Madison as the state Secretary of Agriculture.
By 1982, the administration of the college became solidified with Rohde as Dean, Steve Ridley as Associate Dean and Doc Matteson as Assistant Dean. Ridley and Matteson also continued with their instructional positions in Food Science and in Agricultural Education. Priscilla Creapo retired in 1993 and was replaced by LeAnn Huntrods.
Dr. Matteson returned full-time to the classroom in the mid 1990s and was replaced as Assistant Dean by Terri Ferriss, from the Horticulture program.
For some time there had been a growing uneasiness among the faculty regarding the name, “College of Agriculture.” Although secession from the college was never an issue, there were those who felt overly constrained by what appeared to be a singular focus on traditional agriculture. Therefore in 1985 the Dean (Rohde) proposed changing the name of the college to the more inclusive “College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences” with the acronym CAFES. The suggestion found favor with most of the faculty and the proposal was sent forward and was eventually approved by UW-System Administration.
The change, though welcomed, presented a few logistical challenges. The long name, “College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences,” was a little awkward to use when answering the telephone. On the other hand the term CAFES was meaningless to those outside the college setting. The staff in the office through default took to answering the phone by simply saying, “Dean’s Office.” It seemed to work well, and the staff and the students who worked in the office were appropriately coached in appropriate telephone etiquette. On one occasion the Chancellor called and asked for the Dean. One of the student assistants in the office responded truthfully by saying that he was “on break.” Further coaching was prescribed by the Chancellor’s office. Apparently “breaks” were considered inappropriate for Deans.
Dean Rohde retired in 1999, and William Anderson was selected as the successful candidate to replace him. Charlotte Benck had replaced LeAnn Huntrods. Later Lisa Owens replaced Linda Paulson after her retirement. Anderson had previously held the post of Dean at the Ohio State University in Wooster. Anderson elected to return to classroom teaching in 2001, and was replaced by Stephen Ridley who had returned from a 12 month sabbatical at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Laura Walsh was appointed as Assistant to the Dean. Ridley served three and one-half years prior to his retirement and was replaced by the current Dean, Dale Gallenberg from South Dakota State University. Lisa Owens then became the lead Program Assistant following the retirement of Charlotte Benck.