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University of Wisconsin forms new animal, dairy science department

With similar missions and commonalities, combining two departments will lessen administrative burdens and foster collaborative research.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS) announced July 6 the formation of the department of animal and dairy sciences, effective July 1, 2020.

The former department of animal sciences and department of dairy science, which have been operating as a single unit since early 2019, will dissolve after positions are transferred to the new department, CALS said.

After exploring the possibility of a merged unit in fall 2018, the two departments voted to begin sharing administrative roles that December. In January, they voted to have a single leadership structure as well.

Kent Weigel, a dairy cattle geneticist who has been the chair of dairy science since 2010, became the chair of both departments, and Hasan Khatib, a molecular geneticist who was serving as associate chair of animal sciences, became the associate chair of both departments. They will continue in these roles in the new department.

While the two departments have been separate units since 1962, they have similar missions and commonalities that include animal health and welfare, nutrition, reproduction, lactation, cattle genetics and genomics, animal biologics and basic science, CALS said, noting that becoming one department will lessen administrative burdens and foster unique, collaborative research. The undergraduate and graduate academic programs will remain the same, with the single department offering majors in animal science and dairy science.

The departments prepared a formal proposal that they voted on in November 2019. The proposal was approved by the CALS Academic Planning Council and University Academic Planning Council this spring.

The formation of the department of animal and dairy sciences aligns with recommendations made by the CALS organizational Redesign Committee in 2017. With these changes, the college now has 16 academic departments.

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