Interim restructuring plan in place for DAFVM administration

MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine administration

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 last Wednesday [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. Kent Hoblet continues to serve as dean of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. The three deans will continue to report to both Shaw and Moore.

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.

After earning B.S. degrees in mathematics and biology from Murray State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in wildlife biology from University of Missouri, Burger served as associate director of MAFES and associate director of FWRC and was named a Giles Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology in 2018.

Hoblet was named dean of MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. Hoblet earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and master’s degree at Ohio State University. He was in private practice for 12 years in Ashland, Ohio before joining the OSU faculty in 1983. He served as chair of the OSU Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and as OSU’s Extension veterinarian for dairy cattle.

Gary B. Jackson continues to serve as director of MSU Extension, reporting to Moore. Jackson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural and extension education at Mississippi State. He holds a doctorate from Pennsylvania State University, with a major in agricultural education and a minor in communication.

Jackson has led MSU Extension for a decade and formerly served as an associate vice president of academic affairs in MSU’s Office of the Provost.

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.”

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Sid Salter | Public Affairs

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