Brady Deaton, the former chancellor of the University of Missouri and a nationally recognized advocate of global education and international understanding, has been named the interim executive director of the Center for International Research, Education, and Development.

Part of Outreach and International Affairs, CIRED supports Virginia Tech’s global land-grant mission by developing donor-funded international projects that apply the university’s knowledge to improve livelihoods and raise standards of living in developing countries.

Before heading to Missouri in 1989, Deaton spent 12 years at Virginia Tech as a professor of agricultural economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He was also coordinator of the rural development research and extension program and associate director of the Office of International Development, a precursor of CIRED.

“I am impressed by Virginia Tech’s leadership at this time — particularly the conviction that a new conception of the land-grant mission will best serve the needs of Virginia, the U.S., and international relationships. It is not simply a noble goal but an urgent and critical one that challenges faculty and students to actively address global food, health, nutrition, and socioeconomic needs while establishing a healthy and sustainable environment and alleviating poverty. The emerging job market for our students is being defined by these challenges, and the university is strengthening their ability to compete and collaborate in a global economy,” Deaton said. “I see CIRED leading the way in basic and applied research, innovative technologies, and educational outreach that serves domestic and global needs.”

He said Blacksburg was home to his family during a very formative and fulfilling period of their lives. He and his wife, Anne, who earned an Ed.D. from Virginia Tech, raised four children who attended school in Blacksburg.

“We are very excited to welcome Chancellor Deaton back to Virginia Tech. We will all benefit from his experience and wise counsel,” said Guru Ghosh, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs. “He is a national leader in the fields of higher education and international development, and he brings a genuine commitment to the land-grant tradition of enduring engagement and globalization in the 21st century. I am confident that Brady’s leadership will enhance and strengthen CIRED’s capabilities for high-quality, multidisciplinary international research and engagement.”

Deaton earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and a master’s in diplomacy and international commerce from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin. From 1962 to 1964, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, where he taught vocational agriculture in the Thai language.

He served as chancellor at Missouri from 2004 to 2013, a period of rapid growth for the university. Under his leadership, enrollment increased by more than 28%, 21 new buildings opened, and research expenditures grew by 47.5%. He also oversaw the university’s transition to the Southeastern Conference.

In 2011, Deaton was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, an advisory council to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

After retiring, he and his wife founded the Deaton Institute, which supports and develops interdisciplinary research and applied programs focused on food security and socioeconomic needs around the world with the aim of eliminating extreme poverty.

“Brady’s experience in university administration, coupled with his passion for agricultural economics and his lifelong advocacy for responsible global citizenship will enable him to provide critical leadership to this universitywide center,” said Don Hempson, associate vice president for international affairs. “CIRED exemplifies Virginia Tech’s transdisciplinary approaches to research, education, and collaboration that help position us as a destination for talent and partnerships on a global scale.”

Deaton will succeed Van Crowder, who has served as executive director since 2015 and is moving to a full-time faculty position with the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education

“Over the 10 years that I served on the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, I watched the tremendous progress being made in CIRED and gained great respect for the leadership of Van Crowder and the many exciting projects being conducted by the outstanding faculty and staff at the center,” Deaton said. “I expect to spend time with Van and the faculty and staff at CIRED over the next several months as he and they contributed to a growing reputation of Virginia Tech in international development work.”

During his tenure, Crowder expanded extramural funding from UNICEF that created the African Drone and Data Academy in Malawi. He led the development of Virginia Tech’s presence in Afghanistan, with two USAID projects — Catalyzing Afghan Agricultural Innovation and Advancing Higher Education for Afghanistan’s Development.

He also oversaw the launch of the Feed the Future Senegal Youth in Agriculture project, which builds the capacity and supports the institutionalization of sustainable positive youth development and vocational training systems. Focusing especially on agricultural value chains and markets, the project creates dynamic and profitable entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for youth. 

Hempson said a national search for a permanent executive director will begin later this year.

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