CALS leadership team complete
Some of the best advice that University of Idaho animal science professor and researcher Matt Doumit ever received about teaching came from an uncle who was a professor at Fresno State University.
“Before I started graduate school, my uncle Marvin suggested that if I had the opportunity to teach, I needed to make a point of getting to know my students,” Doumit said. “That simple advice has been the cornerstone of my interaction with over 3,400 students in my classes. By taking a genuine interest in students, an instructor can build a rapport that improves communication both in and out of the classroom.
“Students will trust you more, work harder and offer you more candid feedback.”
With his selection as associate dean and director of academic programs for the UI College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Doumit will have an opportunity to offer that advice often.
Doumit will succeed Larry Makus, who retired Dec. 31 from the post. Jodi Johnson-Maynard will serve as interim associate dean until Doumit transitions to the job July 31.
CALS Dean Michael Parrella is excited about Matt Doumit joining the CALS team. “We are welcoming a strong and committed teacher to the leadership team in CALS. Dr. Doumit is tasked with increasing the number of undergraduates and graduate students in the college, increasing the retention rate of students and improving the overall student experience in CALS and at the University of Idaho. There is no question that he is up for the job.”
Education had been high priority in the Doumit family. The youngest of 11 children, all of whom graduated from college, he was the ninth to earn a degree from Washington State University. His parents were staunch supporters of education, and several of his family members pursued careers as teachers.
His interest in animal science got its start when he was a boy on his family’s cattle ranch near Cathlamet, Washington. The government bought the ranch for a wildlife refuge when he was young, but the experience stayed with him.
His interest in research began as a junior at WSU when he began helping with animal growth projects.
As a senior, he was offered a graduate assistantship at South Dakota State University to study muscle development. That led to a doctoral program at Michigan State University, and a post-doctoral position at the USDA Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Nebraska.
Michigan State offered him a joint faculty position in the Departments of Animal Science and Food Science and Human Nutrition that was vacant with the retirement of his mentor, Robert Merkel. Doumit spent 12 years on the faculty at Michigan State, then joined the CALS faculty in 2008 with his job split equally between teaching and research.
Doumit served the UI Animal and Veterinary Science Department as acting head for five months until early 2014, then as co-interim department head with dairy scientist Amin Ahmadzadeh since October 2015.
Doumit’s research ranged from livestock growth to meat quality improvement. Most recently, his work has focused on improving beef shelf-life and palatability. Doumit credits the Idaho Beef Council for being a strong supporter of his research since coming to UI.
He said he has also enjoyed collaborating with Basic American Foods, one of the largest producers of dried potato and bean products. That work investigated the use of dried potato products to enhance the shelf-stability and eating characteristics of beef patties and other processed meat products.
Doumit views his research as an opportunity to effectively train the next generation of scientists, while generating information to address practical problems for the benefit of industry and society. He has employed and mentored 47 undergraduate and 14 graduate students in his research laboratory.
“Working with students has been the most rewarding part of my career. We have a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the personal and professional development of students,” Doumit said. “We can make lasting contributions to them, our stakeholders and society. I look forward to working with the dedicated faculty and staff across our college to make a difference through academic programs.”
Article by Bill Loftus, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences