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. 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.
Burger will continue in his role as associate director of research and intellectual property for MAFES. Ian Munn, associate dean, will also continue in his role in the College of Forest Resources.
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.
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."