In 2013, Washington state fruit growers finalized a promise for a $32 million endowment fund — the largest gift in Washington State University’s history — with the goal of making WSU one of the top three tree fruit research institutions in the world. The endowments are intended to support new research and Extension positions and to enhance orchard operations; all focused on the Prosser and Wenatchee Research and Extension Centers.
The funds will go to WSU’s research and extension centers at Wenatchee and Prosser. Specifically, the funds will be spent as follows:
- $11 million to create six endowed chairs to provide perpetual support for the tree fruit research program. WSU will cover the salary and benefit costs for each faculty position.
- $11 million to create an endowment to establish new Extension Information and Technology positions in tree fruit production regions to accelerate the transfer of new information and technologies for Washington growers and shippers.
- $5 million to create an endowment to support dedicated research orchards in Prosser and Wenatchee and enhance development and evaluation of cutting edge technologies and practices.
December 2016 WSU Tree Fruit Endowment Advisory Committee Progress Report. (download pdf)
WSU Tree Fruit Endowment has world-class goal. Good Fruit Grower, February 2016.
The EAC has identified six chair positions, with hiring to take place within the first six years of the endowment funding period.
Dr. Stefano Musacchi is an internationally recognized pomologist with expertise in tree fruit horticulture and orchard systems. As the Physiology and Management Chair, he is leading the effort to position Washington growers to succeed in the planting of WA38 when trees are first distributed in 2017. He has taken over responsibility for managing the national NC-140 Apple Rootstock Evaluation Project and has set a goal for research and outreach to help pear growers improve fruit quality by understanding its variation within the canopy.
Contact information: Dr. Stefano Musacchi, WSU-TFREC, 100 N Western Ave., Wenatchee, WA. Office: 509-663-8181 x236 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Positions pending & status:
- Soil & Rhizosphere Ecology – search is in progress and person should be in place by end of 2017.
- Postharvest Systems – search is scheduled for FY2016-17; committee has been formed.
- Additional positions under consideration include: Crop Protection (FY2017-18), Engineering and Automation (FY2018-19), and Molecular Biology (FY2019-20).
Information & Technology Transfer (ITT)
The EAC has tentatively identified several priority areas for hiring ITT positions. Hiring priorities after FY2016-17 may change in response to emerging industry needs as identified by the EEAC and WSU College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.
Dr. Robert Blakey arrived in Washington the week of August 15. He is the first WSU Extension Information Technology Transfer Specialist (ITT) hired through the Tree Fruit Industry Endowment. As an integral member of the Tree Fruit Extension Team, Rob’s program will focus on tree fruit postharvest issues. Dr. Blakey comes with significant industry experience having worked as a research horticulturalist for a leading multinational supplier of fresh subtropical fruits in South Africa exploring fruit quality and production optimization throughout the value chain. He is a graduate of the University of Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa. He and his wife Emily (from the Spokane area) have two young boys – ages 2 and 5.
Contact information: Dr. Rob Blakey, WSU-Prosser IAREC, 24106 N Bunn Rd., Prosser, WA 99350. Office: 509-786-9284 Email: email@example.com
Postions pending & status:
- Food Safety – search scheduled for FY2016-17
- Applied Technology (End effects, Sensing, Conveyance) – under consideration
- Entomology (New and invasive pests) – under consideration
- Plant Pathology -under consideration
- Horticulture – under consideration
- Engineering (Irrigation and Fertigation) – under consideration