Supplemental NIFA Update - July 10, 2020

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                                                                                       July 10, 2020

Angle's Update

J. Scott Angle, NIFA Director

At the close of business today, my time as NIFA Director will come to an end. It has been a most unusual 20 months. But, it has been a tremendous honor to serve the country and all of you, and to witness the strength and heart of this agency and the people within it.

When I took the oath to serve in this role, none of us knew the path that lay ahead – a new headquarters in Kansas City, a government shutdown, the sad passing of some long-serving senior NIFA leaders, and the outbreak of a worldwide pandemic. I’m so proud of the way NIFA not only persevered but progressed through those challenges.

After undertaking a yearlong CAFÉ project (Collaboratively Achieving Functional Excellence), we are now looking toward the future and how we will continue to grow and improve. As a soil scientist, I see the transformation in familiar stages – early on we were in the losing capacity via erosion and leaching zone. But as we have begun to regain our composure - even mojo - our work is now flowing through a riparian zone, where what goes in exits in much better shape. Through an aggressive hiring strategy, we have on board a fresh, innovative, eager workforce to lead us to the fertile ground that is ahead.

We have worked together to streamline processes and create greater efficiency to simplify the lives of our partners and remove barriers and burdens to working together with us for the good of the people. Over the next few weeks, NIFA will introduce some bold new concepts that we hope will help new scientists find early funding success and strengthen our support to smaller partner universities and minority-serving institutions. Our aim is to ensure diversity among our research partners and create an encouraging atmosphere that will attract new scientists and keep them in the profession. Both are paramount not only to NIFA’s future, but to the future of higher education and the agriculture industry.

So, as I depart for the University of Florida, I leave knowing that NIFA is in good hands. As Parag Chitnis steps up to lead the agency as interim director, he brings remarkable experience and deep knowledge of the agency and the partners we serve. His creative spirit and constant optimism will keep the momentum building.

My heartfelt thanks to each of you for your hard work, and to the partners who gave me such strong support through trying times. I take with me a deep appreciation for your determination, and I will continue to be your strongest advocate.