“I am excited and humbled by the opportunity,” Dean Plaut told HAT in her office Thursday morning while battling a bout of laryngitis. “This is really a once in a lifetime opportunity to help move the college forward. While I’m at the helm of the ship, I’m not the ship, and it really requires our faculty, staff and stakeholders to come tell me what you want to see and I can help move that forward. I want to do what’s best for the state.
That laryngitis didn’t temper her enthusiasm and flow of ideas for the college after serving as interim dean for nearly a year.
“There are a lot of things and opportunities I see. Now I can really move those initiatives forward,” she said. “We’ve got a big initiative in digital agriculture that is across all aspects of our mission. I think it’s really important for our students, really important for Extension, really important for research, and we can go full steam ahead. So, it’s really exciting because I feel like the brakes are off and away we go.”
Plaut has a background of vast experiences, including work at NASA. She said the collective is what helped prepare her for this role, but what may stick out is her animal sciences department head positions at both Vermont and Michigan State.
“We’re thrilled! Karen was the top candidate for the position out of that national search. She brings a really deep set of experiences to this role, a total of ten years as a department head plus seven years as our senior associate dean for research and faculty affairs. She understands our land grant mission in a very fundamental way. She’s become connected with the people of the state. She’s outstanding when it comes to thinking through where we can go from a research standpoint and with respect to entrepreneurship, commercialization and our industry relationships, so she’s just got a complete package of skills and experiences that we’re very excited about having her as our new dean.”
Purdue President Mitch Daniels added, “I couldn’t be more pleased that our search committee, after a very thorough process, has chosen Karen Plaut. Purdue’s College of Agriculture is known around the world for its leadership in food, agricultural, life and natural resources sciences, and Karen’s work in multiple capacities has certainly helped make that so.”