When we say Kenneth W. Tate, a professor and Cooperative Extension specialist, is outstanding in his field, we’re talking about one big field — California’s 57 million acres of rangeland.
He’s outstanding on campus, too, selected by the UC Davis Academic Federation to receive its highest honor of the year: the James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award. A dinner in his honor is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 10. See box for details.
The federation comprises some 1,600 academics, those with titles such as lecturer, adjunct professor and adjunct instructor, agronomist, professional researcher and project scientist, academic administrator and academic coordinator, librarian and program coordinator, as well as Cooperative Extension specialist.
They don't belong to the Academic Senate but they still have a voice in shared governance, thanks to James Meyer, who initiated the Academic Staff Organization (known today as the Academic Federation) during his service as chancellor, 1969-87.
The Meyer award recognizes a member’s achievements over a career at UC Davis. A secondary but important consideration is voluntary service to the campus and UC community, or state, regional and national bodies.
"I am deeply humbled to receive this award," Tate said. "I see it as recognition of all the colleagues and stakeholders who supported and partnered with me to make great things happen. Career achievement always stems from collaboration."
Tate came to UC Davis in 1995 as the rangeland watershed specialist, on a 100 percent appointment in Cooperative Extension. In 2009 he was appointed the inaugural holder of the Russell L. Rustici Endowed Chair in Rangeland Watershed Sciences (an endowment set aside specifically for a Cooperative Extension specialist). A few years ago he gave up 20 percent of his CE appointment and took a 20 percent appointment as a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, where he also has served as vice chair for outreach and extension (2009-14).
According to the federation, he has compiled an impressive record of collaborative and solution-oriented research addressing agricultural and environmental issues on the state’s rangeland. He provides science and education leadership to stakeholders and the campus community, and has been repeatedly recognized for his work on surface-water quality on rangelands.
Tate works with private landowners, agency land managers and regulatory agencies to understand the transport and fate of surface water pollutants — and to identify and implement realistic management practices to reduce those pollutants.
Work he did early in his career enabled ranching families to continue sustainable grazing practices in the watersheds of the East Bay hills, where livestock-borne Cryptosporidium parvum and other pathogens posed a risk to drinking water supplies.
Tate is known for his ability to build consensus among diverse audiences on controversial topics related to range livestock production. In 2011, he developed the biennial UC Rustici Rangeland Science Symposium that features scientists, policymakers and ranchers working on key rangeland issues.
“Dr. Tate has advanced a remarkable and productive research and extension career in range management and environmental stewardship,” said Chris van Kessel, professor and chair, Department of Plant Sciences, who nominated Tate for the Meyer award.
“His program has been exemplary in bringing together diverse research and management collaborations to evaluate scientific information relevant to targeted issues, contribute new scientific knowledge, and extend tools and knowledge to serve the needs of society.”
Tate has given more than 400 extension presentations, published more than 100 journal articles, served as principal investigator on 37 research and extension grants ($6.3 million), and as co-principal investigator on an additional 43 research and extension grants ($5.7 million).
John Stumbos, a senior wrtiter in the dean's office, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, contributed to this report.