MSU's DAFVM announces interim administrative restructuring

Author: Sid Salter

six administrator portraits

George Hopper, Wes Burger, Scott Willard, John Blanton, Keith Coble, Reuben Moore (Photo by Submitted)

Mississippi State University Provost and Executive Vice President David R. Shaw and interim MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine (DAFVM) Vice President Reuben Moore jointly announced plans today [May 13] for the interim restructuring of DAFVM's administration.

At the direction of MSU President Mark E. Keenum, Shaw—the university's chief academic officer—said the new administrative structure "reflects the growth and sophistication of MSU's agricultural units and the need moving forward for a strong and consistent focus on a unit by unit basis."

Another factor in the reorganization came when MSU's George M. Hopper, dean of both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Forest Resources, earlier this year announced his plans to retire this summer, effective June 30.

Hopper also has led MSU's Forest and Wildlife Research Center (FWRC) and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES). He has been a senior administrator within DAFVM since joining the university in 2005.

Moore—the university's top agriculture administrator—will continue his service as interim vice president of DAFVM and will assume the additional duty of interim director of MAFES.

"At this juncture, given the immediate challenges facing Mississippi's pivotal agribusiness economy, it is imperative that all of MSU's agricultural teaching and research units have dedicated, focused leadership," said Moore. "It is particularly important that MAFES be able to focus on our vital relationships with state and federal partners and with the state's agricultural and forestry leaders to meet their needs in a nimble and responsive manner."

Shaw praised the qualifications and academic credentials of the new leadership team.

Under the new DAFVM administrative structure, Scott Willard will serve as the new interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, while Wes Burger will serve as interim dean of the College of Forest Resources and interim director of MSU's Forest and Wildlife Research Center. The deans will continue to report to both Shaw and Moore.

Burger will continue to serve as associate director of MAFES research and intellectual property. John Blanton will continue in his role as interim associate director of MAFES facilities and operations, in addition to his role as head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences.

An associate dean of CALS since 2013, Willard is the former head of the MSU Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology. Willard earned a bachelor's degree in animal, veterinary and fisheries science at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston.

He earned master's and doctoral degrees in physiology of reproduction at Texas A&M University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cell biology and anatomy at the Medical University of South Carolina before coming to MSU in 1999.

Moore also announced the appointment of longtime MSU agricultural economist Keith Coble as special assistant to the vice president of DAFVM.

Coble is a Giles Distinguished Professor and head of MSU's Department of Agricultural Economics where he focuses on agricultural policy, insurance, and agricultural data analytics. He served as the chief economist for the minority staff of the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee during the 2013-2014 farm bill debate.

"I am pleased with the outstanding team assembled to lead MSU's agricultural units as we move forward into a time of great uncertainty in the nation's agricultural economy," said Keenum. "The common denominator among this group of administrators is experience and a keen knowledge of Mississippi's specific agricultural and forestry base. With those skills, they can help MSU's agricultural and forestry units lead Mississippi forward in an effective manner."

Date: 2020-05-13

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences  Agricultural Economics