UC Davis named an interim dean of its agriculture school Monday, temporarily filling the seat left vacant by last month's resignation of longtime dean Neal Van Alfen.
Mary Delany, an expert in avian genetics and a former chairwoman of the university's Department of Animal Science, will serve as interim dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences until a permanent replacement is found.
Delany arrived at the university in 1995.
In a statement Monday, University of California, Davis, provost and executive vice chancellor Ralph Hexter called Delany "a distinguished researcher" whose appointment and long university tenure "ensure stability and continuity" at the agricultural school.
That stability was shaken with the sudden resignations in August of Van Alfen and his executive associate dean, James MacDonald, from one of the nation's elite agricultural colleges.
Van Alfen resigned after 13 years, saying university Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi informed him in July that she planned to start a search for a new dean two years before Van Alfen's current term was to expire.
MacDonald, who worked alongside Van Alfen, resigned in support of his boss, saying he felt the dean was being pushed out.
Campus officials said in a statement announcing Delany's appointment that an international search for a permanent successor will begin soon.
Following the deans' resignations, Hexter's office said Michael Lairmore, dean of UC Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine, would lead a committee to recruit a new dean.
After a four-year term as Animal Science chair, Delany was named to the John and Joan Fiddyment Endowed Chair in Agriculture in 2009.
She has also served as an associate dean of the agriculture school.