University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt announced that he will recommend Deacue Fields, dean of the University of Arkansas Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, to lead the UA's Division of Agriculture as its next vice president.
With approval from the board of trustees, Fields will take over the position July 1. He'll succeed Mark Cochran, who retired in September.
Chuck Culver, the agriculture division's assistant vice president and director for external relations, has been serving as interim vice president.
Fields has been dean of the Bumpers College since 2017. He was previously professor and chair of Auburn University's Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. In his more than 20-year career in higher education, he's also held roles as assistant professor and director of small farm outreach at Florida A&M University and graduate research fellow in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at Louisiana State University.
Bobbitt said Fields has the "background, temperament and leadership skills that we were looking for."
"He understands the importance of the land grant mission of the university, and I am looking forward to working with him to advance the education, research and extension efforts of the Division of Agriculture to benefit the citizens and communities across Arkansas that rely so heavily on agriculture for economic and cultural advancement," Bobbitt said in a news release.
Fields holds a doctorate from LSU, a master's from the University of Missouri and a bachelor's from Southern University in Baton Rouge, all in agricultural economics.
Fields said the hiring process has "reinvigorated my passion for agriculture" and shed light on numerous opportunities for the division to develop partnerships.
"I want to thank Dr. Bobbitt and everyone else involved for entrusting me with the responsibility of leading the Division and continuing to shape its imprint on the people of Arkansas," he said in the release. "I can’t wait to continue working with the talented professionals that make up the UADA team to craft a vision for the future."