OSU's Whitson named to head major ag organizations in the South
The votes have been tallied: 13 states have elected Oklahoma State University's Robert E. Whitson to simultaneously lead two major agricultural organizations.
Whitson was recently named president of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists and chairman of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges' Administrative Heads Section--Southern Region.
"Farmers, ranchers and agricultural industry leaders are dealing with increasingly complex issues; they need a wide range of disciplinary input from which they can call upon critical answers to questions regarding their operations," he said, describing the importance of the institutions.
Whitson, vice president, dean and director of OSU's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, said one of his major goals as president and chairman is to encourage land-grant institutions to expand interdisciplinary, interregional and multi-state projects.
"What used to be comparatively easy approaches to agriculture in many cases are now exceedingly complex," he said. "Partnerships between disciplines and organizations have become a necessary component of developing solutions. Solutions provided through these partnerships will, in turn, foster congressional support for teaching, research and Extension issues in the South."
SAAS has been in existence since 1899 under various names. The organization forwards the interests of Southern agriculture by bringing together agricultural leaders in education and industry. A key goal includes instructing and training individuals for the purpose of improving or developing educational activities in service to the public.
Founded in 1887, NASULGC is the nation's oldest higher education association and is dedicated to supporting excellence in teaching, research and public service. It is a voluntary, non-profit association of public research universities, land-grant institutions and many state university systems, with member campuses in all 50 states and the U.S. territories.
Whitson joined the OSU faculty and assumed leadership of the division in May 2005. The division is comprised of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and two statewide organizations: the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
As vice president, dean and director, Whitson works closely with OSU administration, faculty and staff; agricultural, community and legislative leaders; commodity groups; and public and private organizations and agencies to ensure that the division's teaching, research and Extension programs address concerns and issues of importance to Oklahoma and the region.
"I'm a firm believer in the land-grant mission of improving the lives of our citizens, which is more important today than ever before given the complex interactions of our economic, environmental and societal concerns," he said.
Whitson came to OSU from south of the Red River, where he served as associate vice chancellor and associate dean of Texas A&M University Agriculture and Life Sciences and deputy director of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station from August 2003 to May 2005.
He served as head of Texas A&M University's Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management from May 1993 to August 2003. In addition, Whitson served as interim head of Texas A&M's Department of Animal Science from January through July 2002.
Prior to Whitson's Texas A&M teaching, research and administrative appointments, he served as area farm and ranch management specialist from 1969 to 1971 for the Texas Cooperative Extension Service.
His professional experience includes more than a decade in industry, serving on the leadership team of Frost National Bank, San Antonio, Texas, from November 1981 to April 1993, rising to the rank of senior vice president.
Whitson earned his bachelor's degree in range management and master's degree in agricultural economics from Texas Tech University in 1965 and 1967, respectively. He earned his doctoral degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University in 1974.