New Clemson Extension director named

  • Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Thomas R. (Tom) Dobbins has been named director of Clemson University’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Clemson Extension takes the university to the people through a statewide network of county offices. Extension agents share university research in agriculture, forestry and natural resources with large- and small-scale farmers, foresters and land managers in all 46 South Carolina counties.

The national Cooperative Extension Service, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is celebrating 100 years of service this year. The concept was born at Clemson when Frank Lever, a Clemson trustee and South Carolina congressman, observed faculty traveling by train to take agriculture and food safety information to farmers and families across the state.

Today Clemson Extension agents work with university research and regulatory personnel to enhance the economic impact of agribusiness, South Carolina’s largest industry, which generates $34 billion and 200,000 jobs for the state.

“Clemson University’s land-grant mission is to develop and deliver science-based information that benefits the agribusiness industry in South Carolina,” said George Askew, vice president for Public Service and Agriculture at Clemson. “We’re pleased that Tom Dobbins will be leading the Extension programs that transfer that information to people in the state.

“Tom has dedicated his career to building teamwork and collaborations that benefit farmers, as well as students, faculty and staff at Clemson,” Askew said. “He knows the issues that face South Carolina farmers and how to create interdisciplinary teams to develop solutions.”

Dobbins said he looks forward to the chance to build on Clemson’s history of helping people put knowledge to work.

“I appreciate the opportunity to use my experiences in Extension, teaching and research to support Clemson’s Extension Service and to serve the faculty, staff and stakeholders with dedication and integrity,” he said. “My vision is for Clemson Extension to serve as a leading economic catalyst for South Carolina by delivering applied research information to our stakeholders.”

Dobbins earned a Ph.D. in vocational-technical education from Virginia Tech, a master’s degree in dairy science and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Clemson and an associate’s degree in agriculture from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

He currently serves as professor and coordinator for the undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare Clemson students to teach agriculture in high schools across the state, as well as chairman of the agriculture division in Clemson’s School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences, where he leads strategic planning for the agricultural courses taught at Clemson. He continues to teach courses in curriculum development and teaching methods.

His Extension career includes positions as a county agent, area agent and Extension associate, with a focus on building teams of scientists, economists and Extension agents to develop a comprehensive management plan for dairy farmers. He served as president of the Extension Senate from 1993 to 1994 during a period of budget cuts and staffing reductions.

He currently serves as chairman of the Anderson County District 4 School board of trustees, where he led development of a student-centered budget that earned support of all the stakeholders.

He is editor of the Journal of Career and Technical Education and is a member of the American Association for Agricultural Education; the National Association of Agricultural Education; and four honor societies for education professionals: Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Delta Kappa, Alpha Tau Alpha and Omicron Tau Theta.

He is married to Kathy Dobbins, principal of Robert Anderson Middle School in Anderson. They have one son, Troy Dobbins, who is a rising senior at Oklahoma State University.

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