Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, William F. “Bill” Brown, Ph.D., the new dean for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources spent a large part of his childhood on his mother’s family farm near Selma, Alabama.
“My mother came from a very diversified agricultural background including corn, cotton, soybeans, beef cattle, swine and some chickens,” Brown said.
Having spent countless hours on the farm, Brown reminisces on the fun times he and his sister had and the memories they were able to make.
Because of his roots, once Brown graduated high school his interest in agriculture led him to attend the University of Florida in pursuit of an animal science degree.
“After I finished my BS degree, I looked around at jobs, and the jobs that were available at the BS level didn’t really interest me, he said. “So, you know, the next best option is to keep going to school.”
Later, after spending two years in the late ‘70s at the University of Tennessee pursuing his master’s, he made the trip north to the University of Nebraska, where he then remained for four years to work on a Ph. D., with Dr. Terry Klopfenstein, Ph.D., as a major professor. While there he studied ruminant nutrition in cattle and as result developed a fond love for research.
“My major professors from my masters and Ph.D. degree really mentored me and had a big impact on my direction and future career, particularly at the PhD level,” Brown said.
After graduating with his Ph.D., he made the trip back to Florida to work for the University of Florida at the Research and Education Center in south-central part of the state where he was able to conduct research on beef cattle nutrition and work with cattle producers in the area.
“This position taught me the importance of conducting research that is applicable to the clientele that we serve,” Brown said.
Over the course of roughly 30 years, he worked his way through the ranks as an assistant professor to full professor at the University of Florida where he then served as associate dean of research in Gainesville, Florida, leading him to the position of dean of research at the University of Tennessee, ultimately landing him into the role of dean at Texas Tech University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
Making Big Moves
On April 18, 2018 Brown took office in Goddard 108 as the new, Florida native, research driven dean for CASNR.
“This is the capstone of my career,” Brown said.
“A lot of my experience comes from the southeastern part of the country,” Brown said. “But what is really striking for me and what led me to Texas Tech was everyone all over the country knows about CASNR and the students that graduate from this college.”
Brown said as the new dean for CASNR, one of the main challenges he wants to work on is developing a balance between teaching, research and engagement in an effort to serve students, industry, science and the public.
“With the university’s new strategic plan,” Brown said, “what we need to do is develop more of a balance between outstanding student success that we have and enjoy, while also developing new knowledge that will help our clientele.”
Off to a Good Start
CASNR Associate Dean for Research, Michael Ballou, Ph.D., said when he first began teaching at Texas Tech 12 years ago, there was already a push for developing more research.
As a member of the selection committee that helped hire Brown as dean, Ballou said when they interviewed candidates, they always stressed the importance of being balanced. This meant candidates should be enthusiastic about research, engaged in outreach and focused on teaching.
“We always emphasize we’re not going to grow research at the expense of teaching,” Ballou said. “We think with Dr. Brown’s culture and experience we can be more efficient and help faculty be more engaged in research.”
Cindy Akers, Ph. D, associate dean for student success in CASNR, said she looks forward to working with Brown. She said Brown is the first dean she has worked with that has come from outside of CASNR.
“One of his initiatives I am most looking forward to is defining excellence,” Akers said. “He is asking faculty to develop what it is that we are going to be excellent in, how do we measure it, and how can we define it.”
No two days are the same, Brown said, as he transitions into the dean’s position. With several goals in a mind for the college, he said it is important for this position to work both internally within the faculty, staff, departments and students. But it is also just as important to be engaged externally in the communities and with future students.
Senior animal science major, Kaylynn Kiker, works as a college recruiter for CASNR. She said one of the first impressions she had of Brown was how friendly and charismatic he was.
“The fact that we have a dean who is so eager to meet students and talk to current students to learn their story really makes a difference,” said Kiker. “I have no doubt Dr. Brown is going to be a remarkable dean for CASNR.”