College of Ag

Linda Benedict  |  11/28/2013 1:50:05 AM

James L. Griffin

Photo By: John Wozniak

Ken Koonce chats with students at Burger Bash, the welcome back party for students held Sept. 25 on the Baton Rouge campus. (Photo by Johnny Morgan)

Jewel Butler, former national president of MANRRS, is greeted by Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, at the LSU chapter’s fall kickoff meeting in the LSU Student Union on Oct. 3. Butler was the guest speaker and reminded the students that MANRRS is an organization that strongly encourages networking, diversity and personal awareness. (Photo by Johnny Morgan)

Dean Koonce retires after 46 years
After 46 years of working for LSU in various capacities, Ken Koonce has retired as the dean of the College of Agriculture. Much has changed since 1967, he said.

Koonce’s first job at the university was as a professor in experimental statistics. From there he began his climb up the administration ladder.

“From 1989-1997, I was department head in experimental statistics, providing statistical support for experiment station research people,” he said.

In the AgCenter, Koonce was assistant director for intellectual property, external funding, grants and contracts.

Koonce said one of his most memorable events in that position came in the early 1990s, when he was involved in the development of Clearfield rice. The variety was developed as the main weapon against red rice, which is a nuisance weed in the ricegrowing regions of Louisiana.

“This was a big deal because rice farmers were struggling to control this weed,” Koonce said.

Koonce said he remembers in 1972 when the AgCenter was separated from the College of Agriculture. Even as separate entities, Koonce said, there has always been a close working relationship between the college and the AgCenter.

Koonce supports the decision to consolidate the college and the AgCenter under the same administrative structure. Bill Richardson, who was the dean before Koonce, has been named dean again. Richardson now oversees the AgCenter and the college. His title was changed from Chancellor of the LSU AgCenter to LSU Vice President for Agriculture and Dean of the College of Agriculture.

MANRRS is back
The LSU chapter of the national society of MANRRS – Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences – held a kickoff meeting on Oct. 2 to let students know that the chapter is back and ready to regain name recognition.

The LSU chapter began losing membership around the time Hurricane Katrina caused so much disruption to south Louisiana. By 2007, the organization was no longer active on campus.

Bianca Teats, advisor to the LSU chapter, said before the chapter became inactive, it was recognized as one of the strongest in the country.

Through a renewed interest by current students and encouragement from the organization’s national office and the College of Agriculture dean’s office, the organization is back and recruiting students to become a part of the new MANRRS at LSU, Teats said.

Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, said he was dean of the college when MANRRS was first organized at LSU, and he pledged to give the organization all the support that he has available.

“I want you to know that I’m in your corner, and I’m ready to go, and we’ll make this meeting even bigger next year,” Richardson said. “I want to challenge you. When you’re walking around campus, each one of you can invite one more person to your next meeting.”

Griffin named graduate student recruiter
 James L. Griffin, the Lee F. Mason LSU Alumni Association Professor in the School of Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences, has been named graduate student recruiter in the LSU College of Agriculture.

One of the initiatives for the college will be to increase the number of graduate students, said Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the college.

“We intend to put forth the resources needed to enhance our recruitment,” Richardson said. “Dr. Griffin’s experience as a teacher and mentor at LSU will aid in coordinating these efforts across all of the college’s academic units.”

Across the country, undergraduate enrollment in agriculture has decreased and affected the ability to recruit the next generation of scientists, Griffin said. “Graduate students are the lifeblood of agriculture research. We can identify topnotch students studying biology and related courses in other Louisiana schools and offer them the opportunity to continue their educations.”

(These articles were published in the fall 2013 issue of Louisiana Agriculture Magazine.)

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