|Bobby R. Phills|
Baton Rouge, LA – The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center (SU Ag Center) has a new leader for the second time since it was established in 2001. The Southern University Board of Supervisors today named Bobby R. Phills as Chancellor/Dean of the SU Ag Center and College of Agriculture.
Phills was one of three finalists selected by a search committee chaired by Kirkland Mellad, Vice Chancellor for Research, Emeritus, SU Ag Center, and former dean for the College of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, SU Baton Rouge, to replace Leodrey Williams, who retired June, 2015 after more than 40 years of service, and as chancellor since the SU Ag Center campus was established. The committee was co-chaired by Gina Eubanks, Vice Chancellor for Extension, SU Ag Center.
“I asked stakeholders across the state and those in the Ag Center and College of Agriculture to engage in a process to seek three candidates for consideration. These were three very qualified candidates, who have each enjoyed tremendous careers in agriculture and I believe that each would do an outstanding job in this role,” said SU System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton.
Phills' position will be historic as well. The Southern University Board of Supervisors voted in April to combine the Southern University College of Agriculture with the SU Ag Center. The move aligns the academic unit located on the SU Baton Rouge campus with the Ag Center, allowing the operating functions of the three land-grant units (teaching, research, and cooperative extension) to be managed by the Chancellor/Dean.
SU Board of Supervisors Chairman Leon R. Tarver II offered congratulations as well to the Chancellor/Dean-elect who will lead the SU Ag Center and College of Agriculture.
Phills is a graduate of Southern University in horticultural sciences. He also received his MS and Ph.D. degrees from Louisiana State University in horticulture with emphasis in plant breeding, and a post doctorate from Cornell University in plant breeding and genetics.
Phills recently retired from Florida A&M University where he served for six years as Dean and Director of Land-Grant Programs with administrative responsibilities for teaching, research, extension and international programs from 1997 to 2003. Prior to his Florida A&M University post, he was Dean and Research Director of the SU College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences from 1985-1997. Phills also served as Director of the Small Fruit Research program in the Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research for 11 years. During his professional career, he has served in numerous capacities including: Scientist, Program Leader, Teaching Faculty, Project Director, Principal Investigator, Research Director, Director, George W. Carver Experiment Station, and Associate Director - Carver Research Foundation (Tuskegee University), Dean and Director of land-grant programs (Florida A&M University), and numerous board/committee chairmanships/memberships.
While his overall achievements have been and continue to be significant, he cites the impact that he has had on student recruitment, graduation, and professional development as his greatest pride and joy. Phills says that more than 200 students that graduated under his watch have gone on to become great leaders in their chosen professions which include agricultural and family and consumer scientists, biological engineers, food scientists, plant breeders, and academic educators, just to name a few. He boasts that more than 50 of his students have worked or are working for USDA agencies, many of which are in senior level administrative positions.
Phills is an avid grants writer and fundraiser with more than 50 grants and contracts written and more than $30 million secured during his career. Under his leadership, a number of research and extension centers and academic programs have been established for student development and small farm clientele assistance. Having served as chairman of the 1890 Presidents and Chancellors’ Legislative and Budget Committee for 10 years, afforded him national experience in working with other land-grant administrators on congressional legislation and farm bill development. He served on the 1985 and 1990 farm bills and played a major role in securing more than $70 million in annual appropriations for the 1890 land-grant universities.
“This is the happiest day of my life,” said Phills. “I am happy to be here to serve my alma mater and land-grant constituents of this state. I assure you I won’t disappoint you.”