Dave Caldwell is eager to embrace the challenges faced by the poultry industry.
As the incoming head of the Department of Poultry Science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, he will work with faculty to bolster its land grant mission of research, extension and teaching.
Caldwell will have a joint appointment with the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. He begins his new appointment October 15.
Caldwell served most recently as Poultry Science head at Texas A&M. Caldwell earned all of his degrees at Texas A&M – a bachelor of science in poultry science, as well as a master’s and Ph.D. in veterinary microbiology.
In coming to Arkansas, he will be working in one of the nation’s leading poultry producing states and home of some of the industry’s largest businesses.
“To me, the job was quite intriguing,” Caldwell said. “I’ve always been impressed by the Tyson building on campus. For a poultry science department to have a facility of that size and scope is truly impressive.”
With Bumpers College, he’ll be responsible for teaching. Within the Division of Agriculture, he’ll have research responsibilities within the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and public outreach with the Cooperative Extension Service.
“To work with faculty to advance the research, teaching and extension mission is an exciting opportunity,” he said. “The opportunity clearly exists to refill some faculty positions that have been vacated over the last several years. That’s always exciting to help hire the best people possible. That was a very intriguing aspect of this opportunity.”
Caldwell said he looks forward to “working directly with the commercial industry, both in northwest Arkansas and nationwide and be able to assist them with current and emerging industry challenges.”
He plans to fill faculty positions in animal well-being/welfare and other areas and “allowing them to be responsive to industry needs.”
Caldwell said food safety is a high priority and that he wants to re-engage and shore up existing programs within the department. Finding a poultry geneticist and working on animal health nutrition are also “tremendously important to the department’s research portfolio,” he said.
He also wants to bolster the extension work. “I think it’s a tall order to try to serve a stakeholder base of that magnitude with only three specialists. That’s a very daunting task. Growing that unit is going to be a huge priority.”
Caldwell said he plans to grow enrollment among graduates and undergraduates. “I’m very passionate about the academic piece,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed teaching and mentoring students.”
Caldwell succeeds Mike Kidd, who has led the department and the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science since 2010. Kidd, a full professor, is moving back into faculty.