UTIA Appoints Gary Bates Head of Department of Plant Sciences

Interim Director Gets Nod to Continue Role Permanently

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has appointed Gary Bates, professor and interim head of the Department of Plant Sciences, as the department’s permanent leader.

Bates has served in the interim position since 2020. 

Bates joined UTIA in 1993 as an Extension forage specialist, where he has worked to help producers across the state improve the sustainability of their forage operations. A native of Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, Bates holds both bachelor and master’s degrees from Louisiana State University, and a Ph.D. in crop and soil science from the University of Georgia. While at UTIA, he has secured 16 grants and authored or co-authored more than 85 research and Extension publications.

During his career to date, Bates has had the opportunity to serve in several key leadership positions, including as supervisor of the UT Forage Testing Laboratory, Extension coordinator for the Department of Plant Sciences, and for the past decade as director of the UT Beef and Forage Center. He has served on the American Forage and Grassland Council’s board of directors and the Forage Foundation board.

In a jointly signed letter to faculty, staff and students, the deans of UT Extension, the Herbert College of Agriculture and UT AgResearch expressed their confidence in the department’s new leader. “We look forward to Bates’s leadership in supporting the Department of Plant Sciences as it accomplishes its mission and goals and excels to new heights,” wrote Ashley Stokes, dean of UT Extension; Caula Beyl, dean of the Herbert College of Agriculture; and Hongwei Xin, dean of UT AgResearch.

Bates plans to expand the outreach of the department across the state and region. “We expect the next decade to be one of the greatest decades in the history of the Plant Sciences Department,” said Bates. “Our department’s goal is to improve the lives of the citizens of our state. Whether it is students in our classes or producers in the field, we want everyone to be better informed after interacting with our faculty.”

Bates began his appointment May 10.

Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.

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