Donn Shilling Named Director of UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka

Mike Martin (352) 392-1971
Donn Shilling (850) 983-2632
Don Poucher (352) 392-0437

APOPKA—Donn Shilling, professor of agronomy with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), has been named director of the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (MREC) in Apopka.

Shilling, who received his Ph.D. in crop science from North Carolina State University in 1983, has served as director of the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center (WFREC) in Jay and Milton near Pensacola since January 1997. He will assume the new position on July l, according to Mike Martin, UF vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

At that time, Shilling will replace Bob Stamps, professor of environmental horticulture, who has been acting director of the Apopka center. Upon Shilling’s arrival, Stamps will serve as assistant director of MREC.

“We are grateful for the leadership Bob Stamps has provided and we look forward to Donn Shilling’s arrival this summer,” Martin said. “This arrangement should provide strong and consistent administration and leadership for the faculty, staff and programs of the Apopka center.

“Donn Shilling has played a critical role in establishing UF/IFAS degree programs in West Florida,” Martin said. “He also has demonstrated progressive leadership in advancing the research and extension missions at WFREC.”

The UF vice president said MREC now includes faculty formerly based at smaller UF/IFAS research and education centers in Leesburg and Sanford. All programs have been consolidated on one campus at Apopka to better serve growers, students and consumers in the mid-Florida area. The MREC research and education program will focus on environmental horticulture, woody landscape plants, grapes and vegetables, including watermelon breeding.

As a part of the consolidation, a new $9.5 million research laboratory, library, teaching and administrative complex will be dedicated during ceremonies on May 31. The 40,000-square foot addition will allow the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to expand teaching programs for place- and time-bound students in mid-Florida. The teaching program will be in conjunction with other educational partners in the area.

Martin said UF/IFAS also is working with the city of Apopka to acquire land adjacent to the MREC. The land is needed to replace research acreage formerly available at Sanford and Leesburg.

“We have an outstanding group of faculty and an excellent support staff at MREC,” he said. “We’ll build on this strength as we seek new ways to serve the people of mid-Florida, current and future.”

Formerly known as the Central Florida Research and Education Center, the Apopka center was renamed in 1999 to avoid confusion with the University of Central Florida in Orlando.