A digital special section of | Subscribe

Kim Kidwell

Kim Kidwell

Associate Chancellor for Strategic Partnerships & Initiatives | Dean, College of ACES, 2016-21 | Class of 1986

For Kim Kidwell‘s money, there’s no place on campus like the Arboretum — the spot that felt the closest to home as an undergrad in the ’80s and an administrator these days.

“I am from Danville, which is a beautiful wooded region with lots of natural areas and waterways for outdoor activities,” she says. “I spent most of my childhood there playing outside or riding a horse.

“The Arboretum was my go-to place for decompressing nature walks or runs when I was a student. I get my best ideas when immersed in nature so I still spend a lot of time in the Arboretum. I find the grounded peacefulness of the space to be inspiring.”

A 1986 agricultural sciences grad, Kidwell returned to her alma mater right around this time five years ago after a 27-year run at Washington State to become the first female dean of the College of ACES.

This fall brought another first, when Chancellor Robert Jones appointed her the inaugural associate chancellor for strategic partnerships and initiatives.

Kidwell, who holds two degrees from Wisconsin and remains a tenured UI faculty member in crop sciences, took us for a guided, virtual tour of some of her favorite places and spaces on and around campus.

The most memorable place I lived as a UI student

Living in Scott Hall, even in the ’80s, was a best/worst experience. I loved the people and the community we created there but the building was well-worn, even way back then.

Not having air conditioning on those hot September nights built resiliency — and elicited a lot of complaints — within the resident cohort.

Where I was when I got great news

I was working late one evening as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. John Laughnan‘s lab in Burrill Hall when my soon-to-be-advisor, Dr. Tom Osborn, called the lab phone to tell me I was accepted into the Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program at the University of Wisconsin.

It was a life-changing moment that was even more special because Dr. Laughnan, my mentor and tireless supporter, had gone to Wisconsin, too.

Where I took my favorite course as a UI student

I honestly don’t remember what building the course was in but it was a Gen Ed science course in a giant lecture hall that Dr. Laughnan team-taught.

He did a section on corn genetics that was so interesting that I went to talk with him after class about his research. That led to me becoming an undergraduate researcher in his lab, which paved my way to a career in plant breeding.

The one structure that should never be messed with, no matter how old it gets

Until last year, I might have said Kam’s but that story is now history.

Seriously, the Union is an iconic place that signals to most graduates that they have come home again. I cannot imagine this university without the historic beauty and essence of that building on campus.

The spot I frequented as a student that is no more

I used to study in the ag library in Mumford Hall when I was a student. It was quiet and close to my classes, which made it a perfect between-class or evening study destination.

Coincidentally, part of the original library was transformed into the dean’s office in the College of ACES when the Funk Library was built.

I essentially worked in the space I used to study in as a student here during my tenure as dean.

The first spot I’d take a campus newcomer I wanted to impress

I love the Morrow Plots at sunrise. It must be the farmer in me that appreciates starting off the day by watching the sun come up over a crop field.

To be able to show someone that on campus is truly spectacular in that it symbolized the university’s longtime commitment to advancing agriculture.

The place I can’t wait to revisit now that pandemic restrictions are relaxed

Although I visited the State Farm Center weekly for months for saliva testing, I am very excited to raise the roof there again at concerts, plays, basketball games and commencement ceremonies.

Favorite spot to grab a bite to eat or a drink

Bevier Café, which is student-managed, provides the best lunch experience on campus, from my perspective.

Where else can you support student learning while having a great meal at a great price?

Related Articles

JULIE WURTH PODCAST FROM 2018: Campus Conversation with Kim Kidwell
JULIE WURTH FROM 2016: College of ACES names first female dean