Skip to main content

Dean Johnny Wynne announces retirement

Dean Johnny C. Wynne of North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has announced his planned retirement, effective July 1, 2012. Wynne will retire after serving as College of Agriculture and Life Sciences dean for more than eight years, while his association with N.C. State spans half a century.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is one of the largest colleges at N.C. State, with more than 5,000 students in two-year, four-year and graduate programs. The college is also the home of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service. With offices in every North Carolina county, the Cooperative Extension Service is N.C. State’s largest outreach effort.

“Dean Wynne exemplifies our university’s lengthy and ongoing commitment to teaching, research and service in North Carolina and beyond,” said N.C. State Provost Warwick Arden. “Dean Wynne’s experience and insights with regard to North Carolina agriculture have been invaluable to me and many others on campus and across the state.”

Wynne, a native of the Bear Grass community in Martin County, spent his academic and professional life in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He received a bachelor’s degree in crop science from the college in 1965, a master’s in 1968 and a Ph.D. in 1974.

He first worked in the college in 1965 as a graduate research assistant. He joined the faculty in 1968 as a crop science instructor, progressing through the academic ranks to full professor in 1983. He taught undergraduate and graduate plant breeding and conducted peanut breeding research until 1989, when he was appointed head of the Crop Science Department. Three years later, in 1992, he was named associate dean and director of the Agricultural Research Service.

Wynne was named interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in May 2003 and appointed to the position permanently on Dec. 1, 2004.

As research service director, Wynne guided research efforts spanning the agricultural, environmental and life sciences. Research service scientists conduct basic and applied research in university laboratories, at university field laboratories and at agricultural research stations across North Carolina. Under Wynne’s leadership, the college took significant steps in the emerging areas of advanced biological sciences such as genomics, proteomics and metabolomics.

During Wynne’s tenure as dean, college programs supported value-added agriculture, including local foods and a growing wine grape-producing and wine-making industry. Faculty members with bioprocessing expertise were hired and programs developed to support biofuels production. The college established a Genomic Sciences Laboratory to provide researchers and students with infrastructure and equipment to conduct genomic, proteomic and metabolomics research. Cooperative Extension programs protected water quality across the state and addressed a national obesity problem with programs designed to help North Carolinians eat healthier diets and exercise more.

The college also developed the Plants for Human Health Institute and a Cooperative Extension program called NC MarketReady as part of the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. The research campus is a public-private venture designed to bring together leading researchers from academia and industry to advance the fields of nutrition, agriculture and biotechnology. Plants for Human Health research focuses on indentifying the components in foods that protect and enhance human health and well-being.

In addition, the college created the Center for Plant Breeding and Applied Plant Genomics during Wynne’s time as dean. The college boasts one of the largest public plant breeding programs in the world.

The college also moved forward with efforts to increase diversity among students, faculty and staff, naming an assistant dean for diversity, outreach and engagement, creating a Diversity Council and launching Opening Doors, a program designed to increase awareness among faculty and staff. In addition, programs that advise and aid students who are interested in pursuing post-graduate study in medical, veterinary, dental, optometry and other health professional schools were developed during Wynne’s tenure.

The college also completed major building projects over the last seven years. David Clark Labs and Polk Hall underwent major renovations, including additions, while Schaub Hall and South Gardner Hall, since renamed Thomas Hall, underwent major renovation.

In addition, the college’s Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory just south of the Raleigh city limits was expanded and college programs consolidated at the site. A Turfgrass Field Laboratory was developed within the larger Lake Wheeler Road site, as was a Feed Mill Educational Unit, one of only two teaching and research feed mills in the nation and the only one on the East Coast.

New poultry and swine facilities were developed at Lake Wheeler Road along with structural pest control and soil and water erosion facilities. All these facilities are used for college research, extension and education programs.

Written by: Dave Caldwell, 919-513-3127 or

Leave a Response