Bumpers College Dean Candidates Visiting Campus, Giving Public Lectures

Finalists for Bumpers College dean are (from left) Deacue Fields III, Mickey Latour, Lona Robertson and Michael Woods.
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Finalists for Bumpers College dean are (from left) Deacue Fields III, Mickey Latour, Lona Robertson and Michael Woods.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Four finalists have been selected for the dean’s position in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas, selected by a Dean’s Search Committee led by Matt Waller, dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

The four will individually visit the campus over the next three weeks and each will participate in public forums in the Agnes Blew Auditorium (Room 102) of the Human Environmental Sciences Building.

The candidates are:

  • Lona Robertson, interim dean, Bumpers College; her forum will be from 3:45-5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
  • Deacue Fields III, chair, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Auburn University; his forum will be from 3-4:15 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 30.
  • Michael Woods, department head, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University; his forum will be from 3-4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
  • Mickey Latour, dean, College of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; his forum will be from 3-4:15 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 6.

“I’m very excited about introducing our finalists to the campus community,” said Waller, who chaired the search. “We have an outstanding group coming in. Each finalist has impressive credentials and leadership qualities. I want to thank the members of the search committee for their time, effort and diligence throughout this process.”


In alphabetical order:

Deacue Fields III has been professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at Auburn University since August 2013. Before that, he was associate professor and coordinator of the Alabama Farm Analysis Program with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at Auburn for almost two years.

As department chair, Fields has completed a comprehensive academic program review, facilitated a 31.5 percent increase in departmental extramural funding, secured the department’s first equipment grant, developed a departmental strategic plan, facilitated a process to revise and adopt departmental bylaws and supervised an undergraduate enrollment increase of 59 percent.

Fields is on the Council on Food Agricultural and Resource Economics board of directors, and is president elect of the Southern Agricultural Economics Association.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1993, his master’s degree from the University of Missouri in 1995 and his doctorate from Louisiana State University in 2002, all in agricultural economics.

Mickey Latour has been dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale since 2012. Southern Illinios is classified as an “R2: Research University” and an “R2: Doctoral University” by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The College of Agricultural Sciences has posted a four-year graduation rate 98 percent higher than the campus average and a first-year retention rate 89 percent higher.

Recent initiatives include the Ideas to Investigation program where students participate in a hands-on investigation of a research problem identified by an industry partner and faculty adviser; elevating research through collaboration with the colleges of science and engineering to seek grant opportunities; a Fall Festival event to bring FFA students and teachers to campus for learning activities and student recruiting; the development of a new summer school model and winter course options across the Southern Illinois campus; and foundation and engagement resulting in a campus green fund initiative, and new classroom and training.

Latour, who was associate dean at Purdue University from 2010-12, earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1990. He earned his master’s (1992) and doctoral (1995) degrees in animal physiology, both from Mississippi State University.

Lona Robertson has been professor and interim dean of Bumpers College since June 2016. Before that, she was professor and associate dean from 2011-16, and associate professor and area coordinator for apparel studies from 2006-11. Robertson also served as entomology interim department head from 2014-16.

As interim dean, Robertson has managed and overseen the college’s academic budget; worked with other deans to engage college faculty across campus in areas of sustainability, data analytics, health and food; worked with Development and External Relations to participate in Campaign Arkansas, meet with current and prospective donors, and represent the college at development and alumni events; and led the Dean’s Office staff, and 11 academic areas and associated programming. Robertson has hired five new faculty members and promoted 10 others, worked with the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board to redefine its mission and goals, and, since joining the Dean’s Office in 2011, has seen enrollment grow 21.2 percent, enrollment in the honors program increase 25 percent and participation in study abroad more than double.

As associate dean, Robertson oversaw academic affairs, as well as staff involved in recruiting, student retention and curriculum, advising and student records, scholarships and employer relations.

Robertson, who was assistant dean of the College of Human Environmental Studies at Oklahoma State University from 1999-2004, earned her bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising in 1980 and her master’s degree in clothing and textiles in 1986, both from Florida State University. She earned her doctoral degree in higher education administration, educational leadership and policy studies from Indiana University in 1995.

Michael Woods has been professor and department head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University since January 2007. He also served as interim vice president, dean and director of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources from 2012-14. From 1991-2006, Woods was professor and extension economist with OSU’s Department of Agricultural Economics.

As department head, Woods provides leadership for teaching, research and extension. The department includes approximately 30 tenure-track faculty, 25 full-time staff, 500 undergraduates and 65 graduate students. As interim vice president and dean for the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, he led nine academic departments, multiple interdisciplinary centers and institutes, and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station.

Woods has been recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Agricultural Economics Association in 2015 and the Bonnie Teater Community Development Educator Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Rural Development Center in 2012.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Arkansas Tech University in 1975, his master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Arkansas in 1978 and his doctoral degree in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University in 1981.

Members of the search committee, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Terry Bumgardner, director of development and external relations, Bumpers College
  • John Clark, distinguished professor, horticulture
  • Tonya Foster, administrative manager, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness
  • Scott Gustin, DVM, director of veterinary services, Tyson Foods Inc.
  • Marvin Hare, rice, corn and soybean farmer in Jackson County since 1966; Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board member since 1995
  • Mike Looper, department head, animal science
  • Jean-Francois Meullenet, department head, food science
  • Jennie Popp, associate dean, Honors College; professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness
  • Trenton Roberts, research assistant professor, crop, soil, and environmental sciences
  • Sabrina Trudo, associate professor, 21st Century Endowed Chair in Human Environmental Sciences, human nutrition
  • Matt Waller, chair, dean of the U of A Walton College of Business

Bumpers College prepares students for careers in areas of food, family, the environment, agriculture, business, science and more through 13 majors and 22 minors in nine departments plus the School of Human Environmental Sciences. The college has a record enrollment of 2,200 for Fall 2017 and has experienced growth for 16 consecutive years. Faculty and scientists are dedicated to serving the state by producing leaders through education, research and outreach. They improve the life of Arkansans and others by preparing students for successful careers, conducting impactful research and sharing knowledge promoting viable food and agricultural systems, sustainable environments, healthy families and vibrant communities.

Faculty, staff and stakeholders attending the forums may submit comments and feedback to Lori Foster, assistant to the dean in Walton College, at lfoster@walton.uark.edu.

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.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Robby Edwards, director of communications
Bumpers College
479-575-4625, robbye@uark.edu


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