YOU NEED TO KNOW: John Beasley
BY MARLEE MOORE, JUNIOR/AGRICULTURAL COMMUNICATIONS
John Beasley is head of the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences. A native of Columbia, Alabama, Beasley graduated from Auburn in 1979 with a degree in agronomy and soils. He received his master’s degree from Oklahoma State University and his doctorate from Louisiana State University. When he isn’t at work on Ag Hill, Beasley enjoys watching college and professional football, baseball and surprisingly for a man raised in the South, hockey, specifically the St. Louis Blues. Beasley is an avid quail and duck hunter and enjoys playing golf, listening to Southern rock music, reading and spending time with his wife, Kathy, and daughter, Katie.
What drew you to Auburn University and the College of Agriculture?
I was drawn to Auburn twice, first as a student and second as a faculty member. My parents were Auburn alumni and met here as students. I grew up coming to football games, and my hero as a young boy was Tucker Frederickson, Auburn running back and number one NFL draft pick in 1965. From the time I started junior high school through high school, I worked on a family friend’s cattle farm and fell in love with agriculture. I knew I wanted to come to Auburn to major in agriculture, specifically agronomy and soils, and graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 1979.
The second time I was drawn to Auburn was when Dean Bill Batchelor and the faculty of the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences (formerly the Department of Agronomy and Soils) invited me to join the faculty and serve as department head. I retired from the University of Georgia faculty on Jan. 1, 2014, and started my career at Auburn that same day. The people at Auburn and in the College of Agriculture drew me back here. I wanted to give back to the department and the university that I loved.
What advice do you have for students looking at Auburn University and the College of Agriculture?
I always tell prospective students and their parents that my view is we will have the student for two to four, maybe five, years of their lives – a very small time in their lives – and our goal is to help them develop intellectually and professionally. Then, they’re as well prepared as possible to pursue their goals, dreams and careers and be successful leaders in their respective careers. Our faculty really cares about the success of our students, and our greatest accomplishment as faculty is seeing our students succeed in their careers and life.
Second, I tell prospective students, especially those that didn’t grow up in an Auburn family or as an Auburn fan, don’t focus on who you pull for in football or who your family supports, but look at Auburn and the College of Agriculture (and my department in particular) for our educational and career opportunities. We have great majors in the college, and the demand for our graduates is very strong. Despite increasing enrollment in the college, we are not turning out enough graduates to meet job demands.
Third, we have a great family atmosphere in the College of Agriculture. Auburn University as a whole has a reputation fora family feeling and atmosphere around campus, but the family atmosphere is even more prevalent in our college. It’s a great “home away from home” for their college experience.
What is your favorite Auburn tradition? What has been your most exciting moment here at Auburn?
The Auburn Creed. I don’t know if you can call that a tradition, but it is something special that we have here at Auburn that bonds all of us as alumni, faculty, staff and students. I try to read it often because it reminds me why I am so proud to be, as the creed states, an Auburn man. If you live your life by the Auburn Creed, you will be a great, family-oriented person. And, of course, I get chills every time I see the eagle flight before a football game.
My most exciting moment was the first day I walked on campus as a new faculty member Jan. 7, 2014, despite the fact we lost the BCS national championship football game the night before to Florida State in the last 13 seconds. It was seven degrees that morning, but I was so excited to be a part of Auburn again I couldn’t even tell it was that cold!
What is it like being the department head of crop, soil and environmental science?
It has been a wonderful and tremendous experience being department head. Being able to give back to the department that prepared me for my career is an honor and privilege. My greatest joy in my first year and a half has been working with our undergraduate and graduate students. We have great students, and the opportunity to support them in their college experience gives me great satisfaction. Also, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the faculty and staff and getting the chance to support them in their great work. The administration and support staff in the College of Agriculture have also been great to work with.
How do you manage your time between work at the college and your family?
I have a wonderful wife and daughter. My wife, Kathy, and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary this past June. She’s my best friend and supporter. She is so smart, witty and lots of fun. Life is always a blast with her. She is supportive of my career and position and loves Auburn as if she had been here all her life, even though she grew up in Albany, Georgia. Our daughter, Katie, just completed the second year of her Ph.D. program in history at Florida State University. She loves the Seminoles, but she also loves Auburn, especially going to football and baseball games. She is so much like Kathy that it’s like having two of the same person, both full of life, extremely intelligent and loads of fun. I spend as much time as I can with the two of them to re-energize me for my work.
Marlee Moore is a junior studying agricultural communications and is originally from Thomasville, Alabama. She is the Ag Ambassador education chair, Ag Council reporter and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow vice president, in addition to being the editor of War Eagle Words.