New Director Named For Stockbridge School

AMHERST, Mass. - Nancy L. Garrabrants has been named director of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts. She had been a faculty member and director of undergraduate affairs in the department of plant and soil sciences. Robert Helgesen, dean of the College of Food and Natural Resources (CFNR), announced the appointment, which took effect June 1.

Helgesen says: "As the College continues its strategic planning, we are most anxious to secure a strong future for the Stockbridge School. With Nancy Garrabrants’s leadership and imagination, we not only secure that strong future, but we enter into a new and dynamic era in the long and proud tradition of the Stockbridge School."

Founded in 1918, Stockbridge School offers a two-year associate of science degree in six programs of study: arboriculture and park management; equine industries; horticulture; fruit and vegetable crops; landscape contracting; and turfgrass management. Enrollment is approximately 300 students.

"Stockbridge is poised to head into the 21st century, and I am very proud to be the one to lead it there," says Garrabrants. She explains there are two major goals she will undertake immediately. The first is an extensive program review. "An internal review will encourage us to take a look at what’s happening in the field and in industry, and how we can best serve our students, now and in the future," she says.

A second objective is to increase enrollment. The green industry – the design, installation, and maintenance of private, public, commercial, and industrial landscapes – is growing by leaps and bounds, along with the equine industry, says Garrabrants. Both offer great potential for Stockbridge graduates. She plans to highlight salaries and job opportunities in that area, as well as changes in the various agricultural fields, when promoting Stockbridge to prospective students. Garrabrants notes that job placement for Stockbridge seniors who graduated in May was 100 percent, with many of those entering the fields of arboriculture and landscape contracting receiving multiple job offers. About 40 percent of Stockbridge graduates continue their studies toward a bachelor’s degree at UMass and elsewhere.

"My overall goal, though," says Garrabrants, "is to create more visibility for Stockbridge. We play a key role on campus in the programs we offer and the many projects our students undertake to improve the physical appearance of the landscape. Off campus we have an established network of alumni in industry and the state’s professional organizations. I believe it’s important for people to know that."

Garrabrants received her master’s degree in plant and soil sciences from UMass in 1987. She has been a faculty member at UMass since 1980 and undergraduate affairs director for that department since 1989.

Garrabrants replaces Richard Floyd, who was interim director of Stockbridge School for two years. Floyd has since returned to his position as assistant dean of administration and finance for CFNR.