This year Sundaram “Guna” Gunasekaran will be in Washington, D.C. serving as a prestigious Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. State Department focusing on Afghanistan. Since March of 2016, Gunasekaran has served as the faculty director of CALS Global. When he assumes the fellowship, his five-year term as faculty director will come to an end. Jennifer Kushner, the assistant director of CALS Global since 2018, will assume responsibilities as interim director beginning on August 1, 2021.
Along with these personnel changes, Dean Kate VandenBosch announced changes to the program’s focus. “When we launched the CALS Global in 2016 in response to recommendations from the strategic planning work group focused on international priorities in the college, we always intended to conduct a thorough review of program,” said VandenBosch. The review committee report and self-study were discussed by the CALS Academic Planning Committee in May.
Based on those reviews, VandenBosch says the program will no longer focus on prospecting for grant opportunities the way many CALS-based research centers do, but will instead focus on providing programming support to and networking opportunities for CALS faculty and staff who work internationally. The CALS Global Committee will continue to provide shared governance oversight and input for international activities.
“I am so grateful for Guna’s leadership in this area over the past five years,” says VandenBosch. “He executed 35 memorandums of understanding with universities around the world, secured $500,000 in extramural funding and created a successful annual showcase event and Global Conversations, a new seminar series. This work was in addition to his achievements as a highly productive faculty researcher. I know he will bring valuable insights to his role as a Jefferson Science Fellow.”
Gunasekaran said, “I enjoyed working and revitalizing the international engagement of CALS faculty, staff, and students. I would like CALS Global to continue to build on the significant efforts made during the last five years to help solve many of the pressing problems faced around the world.”
Under Gunasekaran’s leadership, CALS Global gained significant visibility on the UW-Madison campus built new national and international partnerships. Additional accomplishments include establishing a new Global Agricultural Research and Development Network (GARDEN) seed grant program, securing private support from CALS alumni, initiating a new seminar series called “Global Conversations” and a quarterly newsletter called “Global Glimpses.” Another significant development is positioning CALS as the campus leader in globalization via the upcoming “Global Day” event in October. This annual event was slated for April 2020, but was postponed due to COVID.
As she looks forward to stepping into the directorship on an interim basis, Jennifer Kushner said, “I am honored to further build on the vision for CALS Global, and excited by new directions proposed through our 5-year review. On behalf of CALS Global we thank Guna for his leadership and wish him the very best as Jefferson Science Fellow. We look forward to serving the college in new and impactful ways.”
VandenBosch will consult broadly across the college to refine a position description for the directorship. Further plans will be announced in a future edition of eCALS.