Rick Klemme named Dean of Cooperative Extension

Richard Klemme, Professor of Agricultural and Applied  Economics, has been appointed as the Dean and Director of UW-Extension’s division of Cooperative Extension, effective May 1, 2009.

“During the past two and one-half years, while Klemme has served as the interim dean and director of Cooperative Extension, he has provided enormous leadership to Cooperative Extension during very challenging times,” said David Wilson, Chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension.“He has the appropriate leadership qualities and set of skills to move Cooperative Extension to the next level of pre-eminence and become one of the most effective Cooperative Extension organizations in the nation. I believe strongly that Rick Klemme is the right person at the right time to lead Cooperative Extension.”

As dean and director, Klemme will be responsible for employees located in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and on eight UW System campuses. Last year, Cooperative Extension reached more than 1 million people through educational programs that address the learning needs of individuals, families and communities.

“The vision of maximizing access to the resources and research of the university, which UW-Extension and UW Colleges share, is an exciting one, and I look forward to strengthening our partnerships around the state, region and nation to achieve that vision,” Klemme said. “I am also grateful to have the continued opportunity to work with 1,000 of the most dedicated, passionate group of extension workers in the country.”

He became the interim dean and director in 2007 when former Cooperative Extension dean and director Arlen Leholm left to become the executive director for the North Central Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Stations Directors. Prior to that, Klemme was the associate dean for extension and outreach of CALS and the program leader of Cooperative Extension’s Agricultural and Natural Resources program area.

Klemme earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics from Illinois State University, and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics from Purdue University. While growing up on a farm in east central Illinois he developed a strong affinity for the Chicago Cubs fan, which has imbued him with a capacity for unflagging optimism during times of duress.