About the Division of Agriculture

About the Division of Agriculture

On Sept. 26, 1959, the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees voted to create what is now known as the U of A System Division of Agriculture as a statewide, system-level entity to administer agricultural teaching, research and extension programs. The Division includes the Agricultural Experiment Station, which is the state’s primary research agency for agriculture and related areas, and the Cooperative Extension Service, which delivers information and technology to the public.

Reseachers show their work at Rice Expo
RESULTS -- Researchers show their rice demonstration plots to visitors at the 2014 Arkansas Rice Expo. 

Our research and extension faculty members are located on five campuses, at five research and extension centers and in extension offices in all 75 counties. Staff at eight additional research stations assist faculty with field experiments in diverse environments. 

The Division’s primary mission is helping producers and processors of food, fiber and fuels access and use appropriate technologies. The statewide infrastructure also supports a broader mission that affects people in all walks of life. These areas include food safety and security, health and nutrition, natural resource conservation, and 4-H and other programs serving youth, families and communities.

The Board of Trustees took the first step in redefining the administration of agricultural research and extension programs on March 31, 1959, when it appointed John W. White as dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics and director of the experiment station and extension service. The board added in its resolution that White’s title would be changed “when legally practical to Vice President for Agriculture.” The change became official with a Sept. 26 resolution that said, “The Division of Agriculture is hereby established to include the programs of resident instruction, research and extension in agriculture and home economics; the Vice President for Agriculture heads the Division.”

Vice presidents for agriculture after White, who served from 1959-1974, have been James E. Martin, 1975-1980; John W. Goodwin1981-1986; Preston E. La Ferney, 1987- 1992; Milo J. Shult, 1992 to 2010; and Mark J. Cochran, from 2011 to present.

To read more about this system-level entity, see the Arkansas Land & Life magazine story marking the Division's 50th anniversary.