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Candidates for President
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Candidates for President

Curt R. Rom

University Professor of Horticulture
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA


ASHS Member since 1981. BS Horticulture, University of Arkansas, 1980; MS Horticulture, The Ohio State University, 1982; PHD Horticulture/Crop Physiology, The Ohio State University, 1984.

Positions: Assistant Horticulturist/Assistant Professor, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Washington State University 1984–89; Associate Professor (1989–2005), Professor (2005–14), University Professor (2014), Department of Horticulture, University of Arkansas.

ASHS Activities and Leadership Positions: Vice President, Education Division, 1998–2001; Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee, 2010–12; Board of Directors Member, 1998–2001, 2010–12; Executive Committee, 2010–12; Finance Committee, 2006–2012; Continuing Education Committee, Chair; Investment Trustees, Chair; Pomology Working Group, Chair, Secretary; Education Advisory Council, Chair; Teaching Methods Working Group, Chair; Local Foods Systems Working Group, Chair; Journal of ASHS, Associate Editor; Endowment Fund Committee; Research Advisory Council; Public Relations Committee; Annual Conference Program Committee; Collegiate Activities Committee; Graduate Activities Committee; National Initiatives Task Force; Task Force on Colloquium for Learning Outcomes; Fruit Publications Award Committee, Chair; Certified Professional Horticulturist Task Force; Blue Ribbon Panel on Annual Meetings; Graduate Poster Judge (twice); Colloquium—Measuring Sustainability, Chair; Colloquium—The Future of Horticulture Horticulture Higher Education in the 21st Century, Chair; Colloquium—The Food System; From Local to Global, Chair; State Membership Chair. Southern Region–ASHS: President; Executive Committee, Chair; Nominations Committee, Chair; Outstanding Dissertation Committee, Chair (twice); Fruit Section, Chair; Education Section, Chair; Posters Section, Chair; Outstanding ACB Awards Review Committee

Honors and Awards: ASHS Fellow (2012); Outstanding Faculty Member, University of Arkansas Associated Student Government; Fulbright Senior Scholar and Lecturer, Agripolis, Padova, Italy (2008); Gold Medal Faculty Mentor, University of Arkansas Office of Nationally Competitive Awards; Shepherd Award for Outstanding Publication, Journal of the American Pomological Society (2005, 2006); Certificate of Merit, USDA Higher Education Outstanding Educator (2005, 2010); ASHS Outstanding Educator Career Award; Andrew Lucas Alumni Service Award, University of Arkansas Alumni Association; L.M. Ware Distinguished Career Teaching Award, Southern Region–ASHS; John White Outstanding Teacher Award, Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural Food and Life Sciences, University of Arkansas; Award of Teaching Excellence, Teaching Academy Fellow, University of Arkansas; Teaching Award of Merit, National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture; Teaching Award of Merit, Gamma Sigma Delta; Service Award, Arkansas State Horticultural Society; Recognition Award, Arkansas State Horticultural Society; OECD Research Fellowship, East Malling Research Station, England; International Agriculture Center Fellow, Wageningen, Netherlands; Graduate Alumni Research Award, The Ohio State University for outstanding dissertation research; U.P. Hedrick Award, American Pomological Society; Vaille–Watts Award for Outstanding Senior in Horticulture, Univ. of Arkansas.

Other Professional Activities: American Pomological Society, President, Vice President, Secretary; Co-Director, Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture; Director, National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative; Director, Bumpers College Honors Program; Arkansas State Horticulture Society Executive Secretary; Participant on 5 USDA NIFA/CSREES institutional review panels; NC140 National Rootstock Project, Chair; NE183 National Apple Cultivar Testing Program; Food Systems Leadership Institute Graduate; ESCOP/ACOP Leadership Development Program Graduate; University of Arkansas Chapter Gamma Sigma Delta, President, Vice President, Treasurer; University of Arkansas Faculty Senate, President; University of Arkansas Campus Faculty Chair; University of Arkansas Campus Council, Chair; University of Arkansas Faculty Executive Committee, Chair.

Statement: It is with honor and delight I have been nominated for election to serve as the President of the ASHS. If elected, I promise to serve with all my ability with the best interest of the membership in mind.

The ASHS has been my professional and intellectual “home” since joining as a graduate student. My association with the Society started early in my life as the son of a horticulturist and ASHS member and attending annual conferences dating back to the mid-1960s. Attending Southern Region–ASHS, and national ASHS meetings as a horticulture undergraduate, helped forge my interest in research and academic horticulture. I always look forward to receiving the publications—the Society newsletter, the Journal, HortScience, and HortTechnology. The annual conference is a highlight of my professional year as a time for intellectual refreshment and renewal, for sharing results and learning from others, a chance for networking, an opportunity for collaboration, and a time to catch up with close friends made over the decades of my professional career. I have been fortunate to serve the ASHS in several capacities and learn about the Society and the diverse collage of its members. My service to the Society has been a combination of interest, responsibility, and loyalty. I care about the ASHS and its membership—my colleagues.

The core mission and purpose of the Society is communication—both within the membership through our meetings and publications, and to a wider audience of stakeholders, constituents, and the general public through our publications and social media. But the Society has secondary purposes of professional development of the membership, advocacy for the membership, and service to our stakeholders and constituents. As President, I would work to empower the members of the Board, Working Group Leadership, and other leaders of the Society to serve these missions and purposes. I would be sure the Board lives to its responsibility and fiduciary duties to the membership. I would work to ensure that the membership be at the center of all decisions.

A goal of my leadership would be to ensure the sustainability of the ASHS in both the short and long terms. I would work with the Board to maintain and sustain the financial health of the organization. I would work with the Board to develop a plan for sustainable membership of the Society. I would work with the Board to plan for sustainable and relevant programs, activities, and communications of the Society. I would work with the Board to develop plans for sustainable relevancy of Horticulture and the ASHS to science and the clientele who fund our work and programs, who populate our classes, and who use the knowledge that is developed by ASHS members. I would work to foster a spirit of engagement, collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurialism among the ASHS membership. I would work to ensure that currently and in the future, the ASHS would be the premier Society providing Science for Specialty Crops.


Marc van Iersel

Professor and Graduate Coordinator
Department of Horticulture
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia, USA


ASHS member since 1995; MS, Horticulture, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, 1989; PhD, Agronomy, University of Arkansas, 1994.

Positions: Postdoctoral researcher, Utah State University, Logan, Utah; Assistant, associate, and full professor, University of Georgia, 1995–2014; Graduate Coordinator, 2006–14.

ASHS Activities: Associate Editor, HortScience, 19992002; Consulting Editor, Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 2003–14; Chair and chair-elect, Crop Physiology Working Group, 2002–06; Membership Committee, 2006–09; Continuing Education Committee, 2007–11; National Issues Task Force, 2007–14; Vice President and Vice President–elect, Research Division, 2006–09; Chair-elect, Growth Chambers and Controlled Environments Working Group, 2013–14; Organized and co-organized various workshops and colloquia for annual conferences.

Honors and Awards: 2012, Nominated for Katerva award (referred to as the Nobel Prize for sustainability) as part of the SCRI-MINDS research team; 2011 Georgia Green Industry Association Friend of the Environment Award; 2007 Kenneth Post Award for best graduate student paper in an ASHS journal; 2007 Outstanding Professor of the Year, UGA Horticulture Club; 2001 Outstanding Educator Award, Georgia Flower Grower Association.

Other Professional Activities: Program Committee, Fifth International Meeting on Controlled Environments, Brisbane, Australia, 2014; Organizing Committee, Fourth International Meeting on Controlled Environments, Cambridge, UK, 2012; Organizing Committee, NSF workshop on Vertical Farming, College Park, MD, 2012; Proposal Reviewer, HortCrisp, NASA, American Floral Endowment, USDA- SCRI, USDA-BARD; Secretary, Vice-chair, Chair, Past Chair, USDA project NCERA-101, Committee on Controlled Environment Technology and Use, 2009–13; Founding member, USDA project NCDC-216 ‘Water Management and Quality for Ornamental Crop Production and Health’, 2009-2010; Editorial Board, Journal of Plant Nutrition, 2003–06; Published 100+ peer-reviewed papers, many of them in ASHS journals.

Statement: It is a true honor to be considered for the position of President of ASHS. Since becoming a faculty member in the University of Georgia’s Department of Horticulture in 1995, I have been an ASHS member. In the past 20 years, I have met many old and new friends through ASHS and participating in ASHS has resulted in many valuable collaborative opportunities. It would be with great pleasure that I would serve as President of ASHS, which would give me the opportunity to help assure that others will be able to reap the same benefits from their ASHS membership that I have enjoyed. For ASHS members, the two most visible ASHS activities are the annual conference and the ASHS journals. Our annual conference is a prime opportunity for horticultural scientists to present their work and to learn about our colleagues’ work. But at least as important, it is a good opportunity for networking, strengthening existing relationships, and building new ones. The conference seems to be serving its purpose very well and no major changes are needed. As long as members are willing to attend and actively participate in the organization of sessions, workshops, etc., the conference’s future is bright.

The journals represent not only a way for us to publish peer-reviewed, science-based information, it also is a critical revenue stream for the society. For the long term-health of ASHS, the success of our journals is critical. HortTechnology and HortScience are doing well, but the Journal of the ASHS appears to be struggling to attract the number of papers we would like to get. The relatively low impact factor of JASHS, as compared to many other basic plant science journals, may dissuade many people from submitting their work to this journal. Increasing the impact factor of JASHS is likely the best opportunity to attract more manuscripts and readers. Of course that is easier said than done, but one relatively simple way to do so would be to post manuscripts online as soon as they have been accepted for publication. Other publishers successfully do this and it allows our colleagues to read and cite accepted papers before they have been officially published. I believe that this strategy is well worth considering for the ASHS journals.

ASHS offers many other services to its members, such as posting resumes and job openings, regional conferences, leadership opportunities, and advocacy on Capitol Hill., Although many members many not be aware of ASHS’ advocacy program, it has reaped benefits for many ASHS members. ASHS advocated strongly for continued/increased funding for important horticultural science programs, such as SCRI, SCBG, Clean Plant Network, and OREI. Although these advocacy efforts have no direct benefit for ASHS, they benefit ASHS members, which in turn strengthens ASHS. A strong horticultural science community is critical for the future of ASHS. Thus, I am a strong proponent of continuing such efforts in the future.

The biggest challenge to horticulture, horticulture science, and ASHS may well be the lack of public understanding of what horticulture is. Too few young (and old) people are exposed to horticulture to develop a strong appreciation of it. That in turn makes it hard to attract students to horticulture programs, and a lack of students poses a threat to teaching programs, departments, and the future of horticultural science. ASHS can play a role in educating young people about our field. My hope would be that we can develop teaching plans, preferably in collaboration with NACTA (North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture), for high schools to expose students to all that horticulture has to offer. Many universities already have active outreach programs in high schools. By taking advantage of the experiences of these programs, we should be able to make teaching plans available to a much wider audience. Hopefully, this will help attract some of those students to horticulture programs, but even if they chose to go a different route, educating people about horticulture will benefit all of us who are active in horticulture, including ASHS.

Horticulture and ASHS have a bright future: in times of increasing food demand, public health issues, and environmental challenges, horticulture provides people with healthy foods and helps shape the environment we live in. The positive societal impact of what we do is undeniable. Horticulture has a great story to tell. If I am elected to serve as your president, I hope I can count on you to help tell that story.


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