Incoming ag economics head Anderson brings diverse experience
By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Dec. 13, 2019
- Anderson grew up in Stone County
- Has diverse private sector, academic experience
- Takes new position Jan. 2
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UNDATED – John Anderson, who will join the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture as head of the Department of Agricultural Economics/Agribusiness on Jan. 2, 2020, is not one to pass up a learning opportunity.
Anderson grew up in Timbo, an unincorporated community in Stone County, and his wife is from Lonoke County. While his background features impressive academic credentials — a bachelor of science degree in agribusiness from the College of the Ozarks, a master’s in agriculture from Arkansas State University and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University (and is, even now, working on a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary) — he hasn’t spent his whole career in academia. His diverse background includes work as a loan officer at an Izard County bank and service in the Army Reserve artillery.
“A lot of people go through their entire career in academia,” Anderson said. “I’ve had a couple of detours and they’ve all been related to my university work. I’ve had opportunities to do things I never would’ve imagined. I hope that experience informs everything I do, including this job as department head.”
As department head, his responsibilities will be divided among research through the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, extension activities through the Cooperative Extension Service and teaching through the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.
It’s a tall order, but Anderson said he’s looking forward to it.
“I do want to build on the good things there, [to] deepen and strengthen relations we have within the department throughout the state,” he said. “Agriculture in Arkansas is extremely diverse and widespread. I want people all over the state to be aware of, and appreciate, the presence that the ag economics department has throughout the state. We are a resource for the people of Arkansas. I want to see the state of Arkansas excel.”
Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System, said he is looking forward to having Anderson’s experience and enthusiasm at work.
“Global weather extremes, market swings and domestic policy changes make agriculture more complex by the minute,” he said. “Having someone at this department’s helm who has a 360-degree view of agricultural economics and policy is critical as we work to be a dependable resource for our clients and stakeholders. We look forward to having John come aboard.”
Anderson said he looks to develop some regional projects with Arkansas’ neighbors and “increase the quality and the amount of content we are providing across all aspects of our mission,” as well as use technology to better reach the people who can benefit from it.
“We are very fortunate to attract someone of John’s caliber to lead one of the very best Ag Economics departments in the nation,” said Jean-Francois Meullenet, director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. “I look forward to working with Dr. Anderson to implement the department’s collective vision for research priorities.
He said his various life experiences “have been a great opportunity to gain a little broader perspective and to see the university, to some extent, as an outsider. I hope it will be helpful when I come aboard.”
Anderson said he’s looking forward to working with Deacue Fields, dean of the Bumpers College, someone he’s known since their grad school days.
“That’s part of what attracted me to this position, knowing that Deacue was here,” he said. “Working with your friends is always exciting.”
Fields called Anderson “a visionary person, who can embrace all three aspects” of the land grant mission.
“I’ve known John for a good while,” Fields said. “John has a truly diverse background, given that he was at Mississippi State and Kentucky. As a faculty member, he is a proven researcher who has also worked with students and extension.”
Anderson succeeds Kelley Bryant, who died in July.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
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 and services 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.
About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture