A Happy Farewell

Andrew Thulin, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES), will retire from the university at the end of 2023 after more than 25 years of service. A Cal Poly alumnus, he joined CAFES in 1998 as head of its Animal Science Department and has led the college for the last 10 years. In that time, he worked to ensure the college is continuously poised to prepare future generations of students in sustainable agriculture practices that will build long-term food safety and security, environmental sustainability, and climate-smart agricultural systems. A national search for the next dean will be conducted in partnership with an external search firm. 

My love for Cal Poly runs deep, and I am honored to have spent the last 25 years alongside those who work tirelessly to prepare our graduates to address these global issues. I can retire knowing that the future is in good hands.

— Andrew Thulin

During his 25-year tenure, more than $230 million was raised for numerous new laboratories and the construction of a new Beef Center, Animal Nutrition Center, J & G Lau Meat Processing Center, Oppenheimer Family Equine Center, Boswell Ag Tech Center in the William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation, and the $22 million JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture, which has been recognized as the largest donor-funded project in California State University history. All projects were built to reflect Thulin’s vision of offering advanced technologies to provide students with the hands-on experience needed to succeed and thrive in varied industries, and to support the Teacher-Scholar Model for the college to ensure faculty and students are partners in discovery and innovation.   

“It has been my great pleasure to serve as dean of the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences for the past 10 years, focusing on developing solutions to food security, environmental sustainability and climate-smart agriculture,” Thulin said. “My love for Cal Poly runs deep, and I am honored to have spent the last 25 years alongside those who work tirelessly to prepare our graduates to address these global issues. I can retire knowing that the future is in good hands.”  

As dean, Thulin hired nearly 100 new faculty and numerous full-time lecturers to support the college’s nine departments and 15 majors, with an emphasis on adding international and diverse expertise. His mentorship facilitated partnerships across the university and strengthened interdisciplinary efforts college-wide. A strong believer in diversity of thought and respect for others, Thulin initiated the college’s first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and has encouraged and funded innovative programs to support first generation and underrepresented minority students. 

His focus on expanding student and faculty success helped pave the way for faculty to grow research grant funding to $21 million in 2022 from about $5.5 million in 2014. In addition, his passion for providing students the opportunities to innovate and conduct undergraduate research showed through the development of the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). Since 2015 he has supported as many as 100 students and faculty with up to $400,000 each summer to support this important program. In addition, he updated the college’s strategic plan, and he advocated for the preservation of the college’s more than 6,000 acres of agricultural production, water supply, processing and research land and facilities near the campus core during the university’s master plan update. 

Thulin strategically partnered with industry leaders who recognize and share the value of investing in the future to provide significant funding to launch the Cal Poly Strawberry Center, the Grimm Family Center for Organic Production and Research, and the Wildland-Urban Interface FIRE Institute, and to reinvent the Dairy Processing and Technology Center, all of which are poised to expose students daily to existing challenges and prepare them to be future leaders in industries that sustain life. 


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