URBANA, Ill. – Kim Kidwell, a nationally respected scholar of plant breeding and genetics, was honored during an investiture ceremony for the Robert A. Easter Chair in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois on May 3.
Kidwell began her role as the dean of the College of ACES on November 1, 2016. Her leadership style is clearly defined by her dedication to improving student learning; driving sound, innovative research; and cultivating industry partnerships to improve the lives and livelihoods of the residents of Illinois, in support of the land-grant mission of the University of Illinois. She is a proud alumna of ACES where she earned bachelor’s degrees in both genetics and development (1985) and agriculture science (1986). She received her master’s (1989) and Ph.D. (1992) degrees in plant breeding and plant genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
U of I President Timothy Killeen said, “Not only is she back where it all started, leading a world-class college where two undergraduate degrees launched her career as a nationally renowned educator, scholar, and administrator, but she also has come home to a new, extraordinary honor as this great college’s inaugural Robert A. Easter Chair.”
Kidwell plans to honor the legacy of Robert A. Easter by expanding lifeskill enhancement opportunities for people at the University of Illinois through the creation of an ACES Leadership Academy. She plans to bring the lifeskill enhancement portfolio she created at Washington State University to the U of I to augment the arsenal of leadership development work that is already available here.
“I believe that we can be the institution that supports people in acquiring the content skills and the interpersonal skills that are required to achieve personal and professional success,” Kidwell said. “Being smart is not enough to guarantee success in life. Having the self-awareness and self-management skills required to navigate effectively with people is essential if we truly intend to create our best lives. I want people to have the opportunity to learn those skills here.”
Kidwell said that she is honored to be named the Robert A. Easter Chair, recognizing a leader who has impacted the University of Illinois for more than 40 years.
“Bob Easter embodies those characteristics of a leader in a manner that is rarely seen,” Kidwell said. “He is committed to doing the right thing again and again until something positive happens. I am grateful to all who have joined together to create the Robert A. Easter Chair to honor his legacy. It is my sincere hope that I will bring honor to this chair in a way that makes you all proud.”
The Robert A. Easter Endowment Fund recognizes Easter’s outstanding leadership and service. The endowment fund supports a chair to be held by the dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Many generous donors provided gifts to honor Dr. Easter, establish an enduring legacy, and invest in future leadership of the College of ACES.