Knoxville, Tenn. (TN Tribune) – University of Tennessee System President Randy Boyd and University of Tennessee, Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman announced plans to recommend Dr. Carrie Castille as the new Senior Vice Chancellor/Senior Vice President (SVC/SVP) for the UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) at the next UT Board of Trustees Executive Committee meeting. Pending an affirmative vote of the board, Castille’s effective start date will be July 1, 2022. She will replace Linda C. Martin, who has served in an interim capacity since Tim Cross retired from the role in August 2021. Martin will return to her full-time position as UT System’s vice president for academic affairs and student success.
A Louisiana native, Castille has championed agriculture and rural issues for more than 20 years. Currently serving as director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), she is a senior leader in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the first woman to serve as NIFA director in a non-acting capacity. During her 14 months as NIFA Director, 168 people were hired into or promoted from within the understaffed agency, employee satisfaction measures dramatically increased, and the agency resumed its proper national leadership role in 4-H.
Castille quickly scaled the ranks within USDA, joining as state director for Louisiana Rural Development in 2017 before being named the mid-south (Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri) coordinator for USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area in 2019. She was appointed to her current position in January 2021.
Prior to joining USDA, Castille was appointed by USDA Secretary Vilsack to the National Agriculture Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) advisory board from 2010 – 2017. During this time, she served as NAREEE Board chair, and was a delegate to the Association of Public and Land-grant University’s (APLU) Council for Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching.
“Tennessee’s number one economic driver is agriculture, so with a presence in all 95 counties, UTIA is a crucial asset to our state. Dr. Castille’s extensive and varied background in teaching, research and Extension will be invaluable as we look for innovative ideas to build on the impact UTIA already has on the lives of all Tennesseans,” said Boyd.
The SVC/SVP reports to both the UT Knoxville Chancellor and to the UT System President. The position oversees and provides leadership to the Herbert College of Agriculture (HCA), College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), UT Ag Research, and UT Extension, and is the university’s chief advocate on issues of agricultural policy in support of the state. The SVC/SVP is fully responsible for administration and management of the Institute’s units, including Extension offices in 95 counties, three regional extension offices, four 4-H Centers, and 10 research stations and educational centers.
“Dr. Castille will be a dynamic leader for the exceptional faculty, staff, and students at UTIA. I look forward to working with her to grow the number of students we graduate to support Tennessee’s agriculture economy, while advancing agricultural sciences and translating that research to help Tennesseans,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman. “Dr. Castille’s expertise in higher education, state service, and the USDA makes her uniquely qualified to even further advance the culture of excellence and service that exists in our UT Institute of Agriculture.”
With the support of an executive search firm, a 19-member committee began its search process in December. The committee narrowed the field to two candidates who toured the state to meet with members of Tennessee’s agricultural community in February.
“Growing up in a small, rural town surrounded by agriculture, I could see the value and importance of the industry every day. I focused my career on agriculture because it is so critical to our economy and to the health and wellbeing of the people we serve,” Castille said. “The UT Institute of Agriculture is ready to surge ahead in agricultural innovation, educating our next generation of scientists and leaders, and serving the needs of farmers, ranchers, families and communities across Tennessee. I’m honored to be selected to lead UTIA, in partnership with the UT System and stakeholders, to the endless opportunities ahead.”
In addition to her work with USDA, Castille previously served as associate commissioner and science advisor to the Commissioner for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, as well as an assistant professor and an agriculture and natural resource cooperative Extension leader at Louisiana State University (LSU). She was also a consultant at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Research Foundation and the USA Rice Federation.
Castille has been recognized by USDA with the Secretary’s Award of Excellence (2003) and the Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Rural Development (2018). In 2017, she was the first female inducted into the University of Louisiana Lafayette College of Engineering Hall of Distinction.
A first-generation college graduate, Castille holds a Ph.D. in renewable natural resources (with emphasis on environmental and public policy) from Louisiana State University, an M.S. degree in environmental studies from Louisiana State University, and a B.S. degree in industrial engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
To access Castille’s full curriculum vitae and to download a photo, please visit https://hr.tennessee.edu/executive-search/utia-svc-svp/.