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Dear Purdue Extension Community Development Colleagues and Partners –
This is my first full week serving as the Assistant Director and Program Leader for Community Development with Purdue Extension. I am excited about this opportunity to lead our Extension Program Area to new heights, while positively impacting Indiana residents and setting a national standard for excellence in Community Development Extension work. I am also honored to follow my predecessor and dear friend, Bo Beaulieu, who has made such a positive and indelible impact on our Extension Program Area and me personally as my mentor.
Throughout my career, I have enjoyed working in diverse settings that require effective collaboration and demand innovation. My experience is broad and globally connected. I have introduced derivation pond technology to fish farmers in the tropical forests of Cameroon as an Aquaculture Extension Agent in the U.S. Peace Corps. I have taught urban youth scientific concepts through experiential learning in agriculture as a teacher at the Harris AgriScience and Technology Center. I have intensively partnered at the local, regional, state and university-level to assist rural communities with transforming their local economies through entrepreneurship and small business development as a tenured Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee. I have served as the president of the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals. Along the way, I have cultivated a strong record of achievement and impact inexorably linked to the long-lasting and productive relationships I have with people from all walks of life.
Since my return to Purdue in 2012, I have witnessed, and helped lead, a total transformation of the Purdue Extension Community Development Program Area. Catalyzed by Senior Associate Dean and Director of Extension Jason Henderson and Director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development Bo Beaulieu, the Community Development team now has defined thematic areas, research-based signature programs, robust evaluation practices and a significant record of accomplishment in terms of successful grant writing. Most importantly, our team has undergone revolutionary change, from an approach that lacked cohesion to a highly functioning team that is driven by the desire to create collective impact and a thirst for lifelong learning. In addition, our relationship with the Purdue Center for Regional Development has blossomed into a highly integrated Purdue Engagement initiative that effectively leverages the strengths and abilities of both the Center and Cooperative Extension. Similarly, our relationship with the Department of Agricultural Economics has been strengthened through the direct involvement of faculty in our Extension programming and applied research and the recent inclusion of Roberto Gallardo and myself as Extension Specialists in the department.
My interest in applying for this position was rooted in my passion for Extension and my career goal of leading a nationally recognized Community Development Extension program. The last seven years have been filled with many successes, but we still have much more to accomplish. I am looking forward to representing our Program Area on and collaborating with the Extension Leadership Team. I will continue to foster interdisciplinary Extension programming with the Assistant Program Leaders and anticipate spending quality time with the Extension coordinators as our team seeks to take advantage of opportunities associated with measurement and evaluation, professional development, communications and technology. I remain deeply committed to our diversity and inclusion initiatives and plan to continue to serve on the Diversity Action Team in Agriculture committee. I expect that our national reputation will continue to grow through our active participation in the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals. I am excited to continue our strong partnerships that have been cultivated at the local, regional, state and national levels over the years.
Our future is bright! This is a direct result of all of the hard work that each of you have put in during your tenure here at Purdue. Your commitment to the residents of Indiana and beyond is inspiring. I will do my best to serve you, Purdue and all of our stakeholders as we move forward.
Michael D. Wilcox, Jr., PhD
Assistant Director and Program Leader for Community Development / Purdue Extension
Community and Regional Economics Specialist / Dept. of Agricultural Economics / Purdue University
Senior Associate / Purdue Center for Regional Development