Gale A. Buchanan, dean and director of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences since 1995, will step down at the end of this year and will retire from the university in 2005.

His departure will close out a 40-year education, research and administration career at two land-grant universities. He will step down as dean and director on Dec. 31 but will remain on the faculty through spring semester. His retirement is effective April 30, 2005.

“Gale Buchanan has served the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences with vigor, determination and a clear sense of both this state's proud agricultural heritage and the future of agricultural education,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “The University of Georgia and the entire state have benefited from his leadership. He will be greatly missed.”

Buchanan, an agronomist in weed science, joined UGA in 1986 as associate director of the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations and resident director of the UGA Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton. He was interim director of the experiment stations for a year before becoming dean.

On the Auburn University faculty for 20 years, he was dean and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station from 1980 until 1985.

Arnett Mace, UGA senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said a national search for Buchanan's successor will begin soon in order to have a new dean in place by Jan. 1.

“Dean Buchanan has provided excellent leadership with great sensitivity given the diversity of constituents of the college,” Mace said. “He is committed to excellence and works extremely hard to further the missions of the college. We shall miss his leadership.”

Founded in 1859, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is the second-oldest of UGA's 14 schools and colleges. The college offers more than 20 areas of study through 11 departments and has three agricultural experiment stations, four Extension educational centers and the Rural Development Center in Tifton.

The Cooperative Extension Service, which has agents in 157 of Georgia's 159 counties and operates the 4-H program, is also part of the college.

Under Buchanan's leadership, the college created the Center for Urban Agriculture, Center for Food Safety and Center for Agriculture Business and Economic Development, the Office of Environmental Sciences and the National Environmentally Sound Production Agriculture Laboratory.

Along with the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Vice President for Research, the college also established the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies.

Three of UGA's 13 eminent scholars funded through the Georgia Research Alliance are on the CAES faculty. Their expertise includes cloning and genetic engineering, embryonic stem cell research and energy balance regulation and growth in plants.

A teaching program was started at the college's Tifton campus. Another is slated for the Griffin campus. Buchanan helped create science programs for high school students and teachers and domestic and international internship programs for CAES students, including a congressional internship program that has helped three students get permanent jobs in congressional offices.

A research farm for Vidalia onions and other vegetables was started, too, as was a facility for irrigation research. Plans are under way for an animal and dairy sciences teaching facility. A modern equine exhibition and research arena was built, and several college facilities were expanded or renovated.

Buchanan implemented a unified governance structure for the college, oversaw development of its first strategic plan and increased its budget.

“I'm exceedingly proud of the many accomplishments that have been made,” Buchanan said. “It has been an honor to provide leadership for the college, even during some tough economic times. We have a faculty, staff and administration of exceptional quality in the college, and I'm grateful for the support I've received from the university administration and from all the client groups we serve.”