By Maggie Smith
J. Mike Phillips, head of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at Mississippi State University, will join Auburn University Aug. 15 as associate dean for Extension in the College of Agriculture and assistant director for agriculture, forestry and natural resource Extension programs.
In his new position, Phillips will be a liaison between the College of Agriculture and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and will coordinate and lead programs that Extension carries out in collaboration with not only Auburn Agriculture but with Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and Alabama A&M University as well.
College of Agriculture Dean Paul Patterson said he looks forward to welcoming Phillips to the college’s administrative team.
“Dr. Phillips brings extensive experience as an administrator and researcher and in Extension programming,” Patterson said. “I am excited about the leadership he will provide for Extension programs in the College of Agriculture.”
Gary Lemme, Alabama Extension director, cited Phillips’ strong background in delivering programs that balance the challenges of enhancing food production while conserving natural resources.
“Dr. Phillips will lead the efforts of Extension faculty housed in both the College of Agriculture and the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences as well as our network of regional agents working across the state,” Lemme said. “His commitment to agriculture and forests will increase Extension’s impact on Alabama’s economy and quality of life.”
Phillips, an agronomist who also will serve as professor in Auburn’s Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, said he is eager to assume the role and help enhance the productivity, sustainability and profitability of the state’s agriculture and forest industries.
“My roots are deep in agriculture, forestry and natural resources,” he said. “I am most excited about working in team environments and assisting producers in Alabama by extending the most reliable, science-based information to them from our Extension professionals.”
Phillips, a native of Benton, Arkansas, holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in agronomy, both from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Before moving to Mississippi State, he was the Department of Agricultural Sciences chair at Kentucky’s Morehead State University. He began his career at the University of Arkansas Southwest Research and Extension Center in Hope, Arkansas, where he was director and professor.
Phillips will succeed Paul Mask, who will retire July 31 after 36 years of service to the College of Agriculture at Auburn and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.