Current horticulture professor and academic program director at Washington State University Desmond R. Layne has been named
Layne will assume the position July 1 succeeding Dave Williams, who will return to the horticulture faculty full time after a total eight years as the department’s head.
“We look forward to welcoming Dr. Layne into the Auburn Family this summer,” said Auburn College of Agriculture Dean Paul Patterson. “He has extensive knowledge of and a strong commitment to the land-grant mission of teaching, research and extension and will be an excellent fit for this role.”
Patterson said he is confident Layne will lead the horticulture department to new heights.
“I also would like to thank Dr. Williams for his steady leadership of the department of horticulture in his eight years as head,” Patterson said. “He strengthened our industry relationships and sustained a reputation
Layne has been on the Washington State faculty since 2013, serving as Endowed Chair the first two years. Layne was responsible for directing the Tree Fruit Extension Team in the state that ranks number one in the nation in apple, pear
In 2015, Layne transitioned to his present role as professor of pomology, or fruit science, and director of two Washington State interdisciplinary academic programs – agricultural and food systems and integrated plant sciences.
These programs encompass 11 undergraduate majors and almost 500 students in the College of Agricultural, Human
Before joining Washington State, Layne spent 15 years with Clemson University’s horticulture department, where he advanced from assistant professor to full professor. He led the State Horticulture Program Team and served as the state peach specialist for Clemson Cooperative Extension.
Layne said he is honored to become the next leader of a department that has been educating exceptional horticulturists and providing critical, research-based information and extension outreach to the state and region for more than a century.
“I am excited about working with an outstanding faculty and staff to continue the programs Auburn horticulture is revered for,” Layne said. “While also exploring new opportunities through faculty hires, competitive grants and new partnerships with community colleges, other universities and industry partners to enhance its footprint and impact regionally, nationally and internationally.”
A native Canadian, Layne said he and his family are eager to relocate from the Pacific Northwest to the Deep South.
“In the years we were at Clemson, we adopted the South as our home away from home,” Layne said. “We love the warm and humid climate, the hospitality, the lifestyle, the available ornamental plant palette and, of course, the peaches and look forward to returning.”
Layne earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in horticulture with an emphasis in pomology from Michigan State University.