UACES Facebook Extension Director Cartwright announces retirement plans for June 2020
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Extension Director Cartwright announces retirement plans for June 2020

Aug. 14, 2019

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

 Fast Facts:

  • Cartwright announces plans to retire June 2020
  • Began career with the Division of Agriculture in 1992
  • Cartwright has international recognition as rice pathologist

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LITTLE ROCK – The director of the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service on Wednesday announced plans to retire in June 2020.  

Rick Cartwright, senior associate vice president for agriculture-extension for the University of Arkansas System, made the announcement in an email to employees. 

Rick Cartwright

“Twenty-seven years ago, I accepted an offer to return from California and work again for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. It was an opportunity to put my plant pathology Ph.D. from UC Davis to work, to bring me back to my home state, and to work with the best people anywhere – you,” Cartwright said. “I have never regretted that decision.”

In his message, Cartwright said simply that “for everything there is a season, a time for every purpose, and my time as your director will come to a close by June 30, 2020.”

Cartwright was appointed director Aug. 1, 2017. He had been serving as interim associate vice president for agriculture-extension since Sept. 1, 2016, just after the departure of then-director Tony Windham. (See:

Since joining the Division of Agriculture in 1992, Cartwright served in a number of roles both on the Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station sides. He has international recognition as a rice pathologist. Moving into administration, Cartwright served as interim head of the plant pathology department, and more recently has been associate director-Agriculture and Natural Resources for extension.

Cartwright grew up in agriculture, on a farm in Stone County, including time in a county 4-H club. He went on  to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at the University of California-Davis.

“I was grateful to be a part of the very real and substantial transformation of our organization into a 21st century model,” Cartwright said. “Our work together has been a singular privilege.”

Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System and head of the Division of Agriculture, said Cartwright “has been an inspiration, a voice of reason and a staunch advocate for the role of extension in improving lives in Arkansas. It’s an understatement that we will greatly miss him and his considerable leadership abilities.

“Rick may be retiring next summer, but he leaves a strong legacy and a lasting impact on the state, Arkansas agriculture and our organization. He has touched so many lives, including colleagues in the Division, students, farmers and other stakeholders,” he said.

Cochran said the Division of Agriculture would begin a nationwide search to find a new director for the Cooperative Extension Service.

“We plan to begin the search soon,” he said.

For more information about the Division of Agriculture, visit

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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 Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126