Mississippi State University President To Give Knapp Memorial Lecture Marking the 100th Anniversary of USDA's Cooperative Extension Service

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 – Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced today that Mississippi State University (MSU) president Dr. Mark Keenum will present the 2014 Seaman A. Knapp Memorial Lecture at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) annual meeting. The meeting marks the 100th anniversary of USDA's Cooperative Extension Service and will be held in Orlando, Fla. on Nov. 2, 2014.

"As we celebrate the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, it is only fitting that this year's Knapp lecture be delivered by someone who began his distinguished career in the Extension Service and has remained an ardent supporter of agriculture in the United States," Ramaswamy said. "Dr. Keenum's lecture will address the historic and future role of Cooperative Extension in helping producers, consumers, families and communities find science-based solutions to the challenges they face."

Dr. Keenum became president of MSU on Jan. 5, 2009. Under his guidance, Mississippi State has experienced record enrollment growth to more than 20,000 students and has strengthened its role as the flagship research university in the state. Dr. Keenum has made global food security a university research priority during his tenure. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that Keenum has been named to the 15-member board of directors of the newly-created Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR). The new foundation will leverage public and private resources to increase scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnership critical to boosting America’s agricultural productivity.  Dr. Keenum is himself a graduate of Mississippi State, with degrees in agricultural economics.  He began his career at MSU as a faculty member with the Extension Service and the Department of Agricultural Economics. His primary research and extension work focused on the marketing and economics of aquaculture, specialty crops and forestry. He went on to serve as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in Washington, DC and was Under Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture prior to returning home to Mississippi State.

Often referred to as "The Father of Extension," Seaman A. Knapp's success as a national leader of the Farm and Home Demonstration System helped bring about passage of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which resulted in the creation of a Cooperative Extension Service in every state. The Seaman A. Knapp Lecture is one of three rotating lectures presented by NIFA and APLU honoring three historic land-grant university figures: William Henry Hatch, Seaman A. Knapp, and Justin Smith Morrill. Nominations to deliver this prestigious address are submitted by land-grant universities, stakeholders, foundations, public interest groups and international organizations.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is available at www.nifa.usda.gov.

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