Colorado State University has tapped a proven leader to position the College of Agricultural Sciences to drive innovation and entrepreneurship within the state’s agricultural industry. Ajay Menon will become the college’s next dean beginning July 1.
Menon served for the last 13 years as the dean of the College of Business, where he recruited faculty and created programs that have helped propel that college to the top-ranked business school in Colorado. As the state’s first chief innovation officer — a cabinet-level position appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper — Menon played a pivotal role in cultivating a business ecosystem that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation in Colorado.
“Our state’s agricultural industry is in a period of enormous innovation and change, and that aligns directly with Ajay’s expertise in business and the global marketplace. He also understands the importance of vision and strategy in moving an academic college forward,” said Tony Frank, president of CSU and chancellor of the CSU System. “In short, he has the right experience on the business and academic sides — and the right relationships with major producer and commodity groups on the agricultural side — to lead our faculty and prepare our students to compete effectively in an evolving global marketplace.”
Menon joined CSU in 1991 as a member of the marketing faculty in the College of Business. During his time in the classroom he was named “Professor of the Year,” and he has served as a consultant for several leading companies in Colorado. Menon was named dean of the business college in July 2002.
Menon was appointed the state’s first chief innovation officer in 2011, a post he held until 2013. He was involved in the creation of COIN, the Colorado Innovation Network, and continues to serve on its board.
“Ajay Menon understands innovation and entrepreneurship as well as any person in Colorado,” Gov. Hickenlooper said. “Colorado has the real opportunity to become the Silicon Valley of agriculture, and Ajay Menon would be a great person to help lead us there.”
“It is a great honor to take on this new challenge as dean of CSU’s historic College of Agricultural Sciences,” Menon said. “This college has always been vital to the advancement and development of the state’s economy, and I look forward to working with our faculty to position the college to continue building and growing a spirit of innovation within Colorado agriculture and beyond.”
Menon has agreed to serve for the next three years as the dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, which offers nine undergraduate majors with 28 different concentration options as well as 39 graduate degree programs. Its faculty and researchers are national and international experts and leaders in food crops, food safety, human-disease prevention, livestock and the environment, renewable energy, risk management, and organic agriculture.
Menon announced last year that he planned to step down as dean of CSU’s College of Business and return to the classroom. Beth Walker, chair of the marketing department at Arizona State University, will take over the position on July 1.
“I have tremendous respect for Ajay and the leadership and vision he has brought to CSU’s College of Business,” said Pat Grant, former president and CEO of the National Western Stock show and former chair of the CSU System Board of Governors. “I’m confident that his experience and strategic thinking will help elevate the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences and take it to new heights.”
Bill Hammerich of the Colorado Livestock Association said he has been impressed with Menon when they’ve worked together in the past. “I feel his managerial style and vision will bring a refreshing change to the College of Agricultural Sciences,” Hammerich said.
Menon holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Bombay in India, an MBA from the University of Texas, and a doctorate from the University of North Texas. His teaching and research expertise is in international marketing, new product development, management and strategic market planning.
He replaces Craig Beyrouty, who is leaving CSU to become dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland.
Menon applauded Beyrouty for leaving the college well-positioned heading forward.
“I’m humbled by the confidence placed in me and the opportunity to join this cornerstone college of Colorado State University,” Menon said. “I’ve followed all the great work that Dean Beyrouty and his team have done over the last several years, and I believe we have great momentum to build on for the future. I look forward to learning more about the exciting work taking place in the College and how we can continue to serve Colorado and the agricultural industry in productive, important ways.”
Colorado State University has long played a driving role in the state’s agricultural innovation efforts. In March, CSU hosted the “Advancing the Agriculture Economy Through Innovation” summit at the Lory Student Center.
More than 400 people attended the summit, co-presented by CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Office of Engagement, as sponsors, panelists, and attendees.
Among the guest speakers were CSU President Tony Frank, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.