UMaine Extension taps former state food safety specialist to fill new associate dean position
ORONO — State food safety specialist and UMaine alumnus Jason Bolton has been named associate dean at University of Maine Cooperative Extension. This new position will provide leadership for strategic initiatives within the organization and help build capacity to address state needs.
The associate dean position marks a new milestone for Extension as the organization aims to bring innovative university research to individuals and industry across Maine, with a focus on workforce development and new digital learning opportunities.
Dr. Bolton, who officially started Jan. 3, will lead new initiatives for Extension, including a statewide needs assessment, an organizational restructuring, and improved systems for financial planning and reporting.
“Dr. Bolton distinguished himself during the national search process with his comprehensive Extension experience, his ideas for building strong internal teams and external partnerships, and his vision for the future,” said Associate Provost for Online and Continuing Education and Dean of Cooperative Extension Hannah Carter. “I’m excited for Dr. Bolton to step into this role and I’m confident that Extension, the university and the state will benefit from his thoughtful leadership and dedication.”
The new associate dean is responsible for the coordination and integration of Extension programs that address timely issues such as: improving the productivity, sustainability and profitability of the state’s diverse agriculture and aquaculture industries; promoting a safe, secure and nutritious food supply; increasing environmental stewardship; strengthening positive youth development through 4-H programming; and developing new programs that build individual and community capacities.
“I look forward to leading new initiatives, building stronger relationships with staff and stakeholders, and creating new partnerships with the University of Maine System and outside stakeholders,” said Dr. Bolton. “My goals are to provide all staff with the resources and systems necessary to offer trusted education to the people of Maine, while also helping to establish Extension as one of the best places to work in Maine.”
This position will serve as a core member of the UMaine Extension leadership team and will be responsible for setting and achieving goals that fulfill Extension’s mission and align with the strategic priorities of the university. In addition, the associate dean will serve as the point person for many of Extension’s Maine Jobs and Recover Plan projects, as well as recently announced projects funded by the 2023 federal spending bill.
Prior to taking on his new role, Dr. Bolton served as Extension professor and the state food safety specialist, where he worked with food and beverage companies in Maine and internationally to create food safety plans and develop thermal processes to prevent foodborne illness. Dr. Bolton will continue as the area coordinator of Innovation Engineering in the Maine Business School, where he leads a team of faculty that teach courses and programs on systems thinking, idea creation, problem-solving, communication and commercialization.
He was also a cooperating faculty member with the UMaine School of Food and Agriculture, where his research focused on food processing and brewing sciences and where he taught courses on commercial brewing and food safety. In his new role, Dr. Bolton will continue to serve as program administrator for Extension’s aquaculture, food, nutrition and innovation programs.