MU Chancellor Deaton appointed chairman of federal agricultural board

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 | 5:05 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Brady Deaton is now chairman of a federal advisory board but will continue to serve as chancellor of the MU campus.

President Obama announced last month his intent to appoint Deaton chairman of the Board for International Food and Agriculture Development. The U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment late last week.

The board advises the U.S. Agency for International Development on agricultural development and international assistance programs. It was created in 1975 as a seven-member board in which four members must represent the academic community, according to the agency's website.

Deaton said it was created to get more input from higher education on international assistance programs.

He said he will be convening meetings, setting agendas and aggregating information brought together by the board members. The board will then use that information to make recommendations about international assistance policies. It will also look at how higher education institutions can contribute knowledge to strengthen U.S. efforts abroad.

"We're concerned about particularly the research programs that are ongoing and the ways in which our faculty and institutions help strengthen other agencies and institutions in other parts of the world," he said.

Deaton said the position will not take away time from his job as chancellor and is, in fact, interrelated with that job.

"I am involved in a variety of national and international issues always," he said. "That's the role of a chancellor in a major university."

Deaton also said this position would not have any bearing on whether he would be a candidate for the University of Missouri System presidency.

"This is the kind of thing presidents of institutions do," he said. "They're involved in a variety of national and international policy issues."

Deaton said the White House contacted him several months ago to tell him he was being considered for the position after Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., brought him to the attention of the president.

He is replacing Robert Easter, interim chancellor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as chairman of the board.

The chancellor has a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics and a master's degree in diplomacy and international commerce from the University of Kentucky. He also has a master's degree and a doctorate in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin.

He has conducted research in Grenada and Kenya on agricultural development and led programs in Haiti and Zambia to support the agency's programs, according to an MU news release.

Deaton currently serves on the board of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, for which he recently chaired the Commission on International Programs. He is also vice chairman of the Council on Public Higher Education in Missouri, as well as serving on the board of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis.

He said his initial appointment will continue through July of next year, at which point his term may be extended.

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