Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has named Susan Sumner, who is the associate dean and director of academic programs, the director of the Agricultural Technology Program.

The two-year program offers a concentrated academic experience for individuals pursuing an associate degree in preparation for careers in agricultural and green industries.

Sumner replaces director emeritus Pavli Mykerezi, who retired from the university.

“I became the agricultural technology director at an exciting time,” said Sumner, who will continue in her role as an associate dean. “We have two individuals starting as instructors, who bring new ideas and extraordinary commitment to the program and the success of the students. In addition, two senior instructors in the program have assumed assistant director roles. I look forward to the leadership they will provide to enhance our interaction with stakeholders and continue our student-centered experiential learning opportunities.”

Senior instructors Rachel Kohl and Tom Martin will serve as the program’s assistant directors. Newly hired instructor Rose Jeter will assist with marketing and recruitment. New instructor John Dickerson, a former staff member in the Turfgrass Research Center, will be involved with the landscape and turf management tier of the program.

Sumner joined Virginia Tech as an associate professor of food science and technology in 1996 and served as head of the Department of Food Science and Technology for eight years. Her long-standing record of service to the university and the food science profession includes chairing university and college department-head groups, as well as the Council of Food Science Administrators. Additionally, she served on the National Academy of Science’s Food Forum and several of its food safety task-force groups.

The author of numerous publications and a former Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist, Sumner has received recognition for her work, including the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Extension Excellence and the International Association for Food Protection Outstanding Educator Award. She was selected as an IAFP Fellow and a Food Systems Leadership Institute Fellow. Sumner developed an internationally recognized food safety program that integrates all the missions of a land-grant university. Her program has been supported by more than $3.9 million in competitive funds.

Sumner received both of her graduate degrees in food science and food safety from the University of Wisconsin and her undergraduate degree in food science from North Carolina State University.

- Written by Mary Hardbarger

Share this story