University of Kentucky agriculture school appoints new dean for college

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comNovember 26, 2013 

The associate dean of research in the University of Kentucky's agriculture college is set to become dean of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Jan. 1, Provost Christine Riordan announced Tuesday.

Nancy Cox, 60, will replace Scott Smith, who has led the agriculture college since 2001. He plans to return to the faculty, where he has been a member for 35 years, UK officials said.

Cox has been associate dean of research since 2001, when she came to UK from Mississippi State University.

Cox told the Herald-Leader that her annual salary would be $270,000.

In a news release, Riordan said Cox has a compelling vision for the future of the college and a national reputation for leadership.

"She is widely known and highly regarded throughout Kentucky for her knowledge and relationships with agriculture, political and civic leaders. At the same time, she is renowned nationally in helping lead the research and administrative efforts of one of the country's premier colleges of agriculture, including an extension service treasured throughout the commonwealth," Riordan said

The appointment is subject to approval by the UK Board of Trustees at its December meeting.

President Eli Capilouto praised both Cox and Smith, saying that the "UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is widely known as one of the leading colleges in the country. That's, in large part, because of the leadership of Scott Smith and his senior team, including Nancy Cox."

Riordan said Smith's accomplishments included leading the college in confronting pivotal issues including Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome and the end of the tobacco price-support program.

Cox oversees the college's research portfolio, which includes $25 million in external awards in fiscal 2012. She represents the college on most Kentucky agricultural commodity boards, was the founding administrator of UK's growing equine programs, and has been the key administrator in alliances with private industry, notably Alltech, the news release said.

On the national level, Cox serves or has served on federal policy boards including the American Society of Animal Science and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Advisory Board for Research.

She said in an interview that the College of Agriculture is involved with decisions that affect all of agriculture in the state, and decisions that affect the agriculture economy.

Cox told the Herald-Leader that the college added the words "food" and "environment" to its name last summer, which means that it has embraced food and environment in a more public way.

"We are trying with that new name to embrace that larger vision of jobs that go beyond the farm but are dependent upon agriculture production," Cox said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears.

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