Bill Barker to retire, CALS shares interim plans for position

Bill Barker, associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, is set to retire on June 30, 2021 after 30 years with UW–Madison.

Barker joined the university in 1991, working as a researcher in the Department of Geology and Geophysics for many years. In 2000, he made a career shift to administration, becoming assistant dean for research and technology transfer in the College of Letters and Science. Barker went on to hold numerous leadership roles in L&S through 2013, including associate dean for regulatory compliance. In 2013, he joined the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Graduate Research and Education, where he served as the first director of the Offices of Research Policy and Industrial Partnerships.

Barker joined CALS in December 2016, bringing a vast wealth of experience in research, regulatory compliance, industrial contracting and technology transfer to the position. His CALS role involves overseeing the administration, management and supervision of the college’s research enterprise, including matters pertaining to compliance and assurance with funding agencies, animal care and use, biosafety, intellectual property and the responsible conduct of research within the college. It has also been Barker’s responsibility to oversee the CALS Agricultural Research Station system, and serve as associate director of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station.

Service was one of Barker’s priorities, and he participated on numerous university committees and boards over the years, including the Adult Role Models in Science Advisory Board, the Advanced Technology Education Central Advisory Board, the Biosecurity Task Force and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve Committee. He was also a strong advocate for diversity in CALS, with substantial engagement in fostering relationships with Native Nations. Believing quality of life in Madison to be a potent recruiting and retention tool for the university, Barker served extensively on numerous city task forces, committees and boards, including the Board of Parks Commissioners and the Mayor’s Committee on Community Gardens.

During an interim period, the position’s responsibilities will primarily be shared among three people, an approach designed to give college leaders time to explore options to re-define the position for the future. They are:

  • Mark Rickenbach, CALS senior associate dean. Rickenbach will oversee the Research Division and the Agricultural Research Station system, manage relationships with campus and external research partners and be the point of contact for research.
  • CALS interim associate director of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station. This new interim position, to be filled in the summer, will take on responsibilities related to the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station and oversee other CALS-sponsored research calls.
  • CALS interim director of graduate and post-doc affairs. This second new interim position, anticipated to be filled by late summer, will help facilitate communication and coordination between the UW–Madison Graduate School and CALS graduate program directors and advisors, and will be involved in supporting post-doctoral researchers across CALS departments.

More information about research administration changes will be shared in future eCALS articles.

Also look for future opportunities to recognize and celebrate Barker.