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Keith Bertrand

Keith Bertrand greets one of the college’s Jersey cows, which were donated to CAES in 2014. This summer, Bertrand retired as head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science after nine years of leadership.

Grant funding doubled, ADS education consolidated under Bertrand's leadership

Keith Bertrand retired this summer after nine years at the helm of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Animal and Dairy Science. He leaves behind a thriving department with a robust academic program that’s significantly grown its grant funding.

“Our undergraduate student numbers have almost doubled from 2008 to today. We probably were at 150 or 160 (students) when I took over the department and now we’re at 300. The graduate student numbers are around 50 (students) in our department, which is the highest it’s been in probably the last 50 years,” Bertrand said.

Grant funding more than doubled in Bertrand’s nine years. In 2008, the department received $1.9 million in grant funds. In 2016, that total reached more than $4 million.

Bertrand estimated that, in 2015, half of the department’s funding came from grants or from commodity sales.

“One of the biggest changes has been that faculty in all areas, whether you are talking research, teaching or Extension, have to be a lot more focused on pursuing external funding,” Bertrand said. “When I came to Athens, (Georgia), in 1983, the department heads of all those areas had a lot more resources provided by the state and federal governments in terms of what they needed to provide for their programs. Now, faculty have to go out and obtain a substantial portion of the resources needed by their programs to be successful.”

For more than 30 years, Bertrand was a staple in the department. He taught undergraduate courses, advised and mentored students, and was involved in researching breeding values predictions for economically important traits in livestock.

Bertrand believes that the department is excelling now because research, teaching and Extension programs are encompassed within it. When Bertrand arrived in Athens, there were animal and dairy science departments on the UGA Tifton, Griffin and Athens campuses and Extension animal science and dairy science departments. These departments were functioning separately, which is not the case now.

“The way it is set up now provides many more opportunities to cooperate across disciplines and across program areas in terms of research, teaching and Extension. There used to be many more faculty with 100-percent Extension appointments. That doesn’t happen very often now,” Bertrand said. “Most have appointments in research and teaching as well.”

Bertrand retired from the department in June. UGA-Tifton Professor John Bernard is acting as the interim department head while a search is conducted for a permanent hire.

By Clint Thompson