Jeff Dwyer tapped to lead MSU Extension

Dwyer called a visionary and savvy leader by dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Ray Hammerschmidt, left, will step down from his role as interim director of MSU Extension Jan. 1, 2016. Jeff Dwyer, right, who will assume the interim role.
Ray Hammerschmidt, left, will step down from his role as interim director of MSU Extension Jan. 1, 2016. Jeff Dwyer, right, who will assume the interim role.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Fred Poston, dean of the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, announced today that Jeff Dwyer will become interim director of MSU Extension, effective Jan. 1, 2016. Dwyer replaces Ray Hammerschmidt, who will resume his research and teaching roles in the MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.

Dwyer is a senior associate dean in the MSU College of Human Medicine with primary responsibilities related to research and community engagement. There, he works on college initiatives such as cultivating new partnerships, working closely with advancement, communications, external relations and other college leaders. In this capacity he has provided leadership in faculty recruiting throughout the College of Human Medicine’s seven community campuses across the state, and in developing a statewide research network.

“Dr. Dwyer is a visionary and a savvy leader who understands the importance of working with communities throughout the state on educational, outreach and research priorities,” Poston said. “I am thrilled that he is joining the MSU Extension team on a full-time basis.”

Dwyer has been actively working with MSU Extension since 2008, and has helped lead the Extension Health Research Team since it was created in 2014. This health and nutrition initiative brings together the resources of MSU Extension and the College of Human Medicine to enhance the health of Michigan residents by engaging them in health research in their communities. Dwyer earned the prestigious MSU Extension Key Partner Award in 2011 for his role in helping the organization help medical professionals put health research into practice and helping patients learn how to manage their own health.

Before joining MSU, Dwyer was a tenured professor at Wayne State University, where he was the director of the Institute of Gerontology and professor of sociology. He was the founding director of the Institute on Aging and a tenured professor of medicine at the University of Florida from 1999–2003. Dwyer received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from California Lutheran University in 1982 and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Florida in 1988.

Dwyer succeeds Ray Hammerschmidt, who was recently diagnosed with an eye disorder that has the potential to impair his vision. Hammerschmidt will continue to spend a small percentage of his time consulting with the MSU Extension administrative team. He will spend the bulk of his time researching the physiology and biochemistry of plant disease and disease resistance, teaching undergraduate and graduate classes, and coordinating the MSU Diagnostic Services laboratory.

“I was disappointed when Dr. Hammerschmidt told me that he wanted to step down from his role as interim Extension director,” Poston said. “He has been an invaluable member of our leadership team. I’m saddened by his diagnosis, but am supportive of his decision to return to his research and teaching roots.”

Under Hammerschmidt’s leadership, MSU Extension emphasized a model of shared leadership, giving staff members at all levels a strong voice in strategic planning.

“Dr. Hammerschmidt was key in hiring and placing key leaders who offer greater support to staff members throughout the organization. That helped strengthen Extension’s footprint across the state,” Poston said. “In addition, he has led and encouraged a strategic planning process that began with our team members throughout the state and percolated up through administration.”

Dwyer will remain interim MSU Extension director until Poston’s successor is named. (Poston plans to retire at the end of 2015, and a search for his successor is underway.) A new dean will be charged with hiring a permanent director for MSU Extension.

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