Serving under presidents could be stressful for some, but for Joe Jen it is just part of the job. Jen, who has served under President George W. Bush as an undersecretary of research, education and economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will soon be working with another president.
Jen will be a senior adviser to Cal Poly President Warren Baker and California State University Chancellor Charles Reed.
Robert Detweiler, interim provost, said there were no other candidates for the job because it was specifically arraigned for Jen.
“In many ways, it is its own special project,” Jen said.
Jen, who has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture chemistry and a master’s in food science, will primarily focus on agriculture. He said that he wants to use his experiences and knowledge about Washington, D.C. to create internships for faculty and students.
“He will be able to help faculty identify opportunities in Washington,” said Dave Wehner, dean of the College of Agriculture, in regards to Jen’s involvement with the department.
When Jen was the dean of agriculture from 1992 to 2001, Wehner worked with him for a short period as the associate dean, he said. He described Jen as a motivated person who is interested in helping people get opportunities that are right for them.
“Cal Poly, and in particular the College of Agriculture, are indeed fortunate to have Joe Jen return to campus to advise on federal policy and programs,” Baker said in a press release. “Joe will draw on his combined academic, government and industry experience to help Cal Poly identify opportunities to expand its collaboration with the federal government in the areas of undergraduate and graduate education and applied research.”
Jen’s goals as senior adviser are to talk about his experience in Washington, D.C. He said that there is a possibility of forming an agriculture advisory group within the CSU system.
Jen, who also has a doctorate in biochemistry, comes into the job well qualified after serving as an undersecretary of research, education and economics in the U.S. Department of Agriculture since 2001. He was appointed by President Bush to be responsible for agriculture-related research and statistical analysis, according to a press release.
Other responsibilities while working in the USDA included overseeing four agencies with 13,000 employees located across the country. He said that the principles of handling the agencies are similar to running a college in that he deals with budgets and having people report to him.
A stint at the Campbell Institute of Science and Technology, a division of Campbell Soup Co., from 1980 and 1986 also decorate Jen’s resume. He served as the director of research that included such responsibilities as creating Prego spaghetti sauce, he said.
“It’s kind funny,” Jen said about inventing Prego. “It’s the feeling you have made a worthwhile contribution to society.”
Some of Jen’s other accomplishments include authoring book chapters, scientific articles and over 1,000 presentations to organizations ranging from civic to international. Presentation topics ranged from federal programming and funding to nutrition and biotechnology, he said.
Jen has started working at Cal Poly in April after deciding he didn’t want to stay in Washington, D.C. and will enjoy working with the students.
“One of the main reasons why I wanted to come back to Cal Poly is to provide Washington, D.C. experience with the students here,” Jen said.