Southern University Ag Center Celebrates 20 Years as a Campus

Southern University Ag Center Celebrates 20 Years as a Campus

(BATON ROUGE, LA) The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center (Southern University Ag Center) celebrated 20 years as a campus on July 1st. To commemorate this historic event, the Center hosted a 20th Anniversary Virtual Convocation via Zoom and Facebook Live, “A Celebration of Excellence: 2001 – 2021.” Dr. Orlando F. McMeans, chancellor-dean, provided remarks celebrating the service and dedication of past and present administrators, faculty, staff, and students on the accomplishments of the Center over the past 20 years.

Southern University System President Dr. Ray L. Belton added his celebratory comments during the virtual event. Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain also provided a congratulatory video.

Additionally, McMeans provided highlights of current impacts that the Center is enjoying at this time. “We celebrate 20 years of the SU Ag Center, its mission, growth, accomplishments and challenges, its employees, and friends, and its clients, programs, and projects. We celebrate the visionaries, supporters, and people that brought us here over a 20-year span. We stand on the shoulders of greatness and people who had the vision and the courage.” stated McMeans.

Over the past few weeks, a 20th Celebration Speakers’ Series, featuring past administrators and leaders from USDA served as a soft launched leading into the July 1st celebration. Those speakers were, Leodrey Williams, Ed.D. (Ret.) – 1st chancellor of the Southern University Ag Center; Leon R. Tarver II, Ph.D. (Ret.), President Emeritus; Adell Brown, Jr., Ph.D. (Ret.) – Executive Vice Chancellor; Gina E. Eubanks, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Extension; Carl Butler, USDA – FSA and Arthur Neal, Deputy Administrator – USDA. Several other programs and events will follow over the next few months to the continue its celebration of excellence. On July 15th the speaker series will continue with Kirkland Mellad, Ph.D. (Ret.) – Vice Chancellor for Research, will speak on formation and success of research programs during his time at the Center.

As the Ag Center Campus and the College of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences move forward within the next 20 years, Dr. McMeans has begun to further discuss the needs and impacts of the Center, the Southern University System and other 1890 institutions at a national level. Some of those impacts include: securing funding for a new Center of Excellence for Nutrition, Health, Wellness and Quality of Life is to increase the capacities of 1890 institutions to address health disparities and to improve the health and well-being of underserved and minority populations; increasing funding for scholarship offerings through the 1890 “Jags STARS,” to increase the number of minorities studying agriculture, animal science, food and natural resources; and continuing to build on the Southern University Medical Marijuana and Hemp

Programs, whereas it now has a dozen medical marijuana products in the market, and there are more products on the horizon. This in turn is moving the Center on a national and global stage.

Dr. McMeans mentioned that Southern University, via the Ag Center, will celebrate 79 years of the Youth Livestock Show in 2022. It is the only 1890 Institution that still conducts a Youth Livestock Show. The Ag Center has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for youth throughout Louisiana to showcase their animals, develop entrepreneurship skills, build character, and receive leadership training.

The Southern University Ag Center stands as the fifth campus within the Southern University System, the nation’s only Historically Black College and University System. The Center was established on July 1, 2001 out of the need to enhance the impact of our land-grant programs on the citizenry of the state of Louisiana. During that time, Dr. Leodrey Williams (July 2001 – June 2015) was named and served as the inaugural chancellor for the newly named campus.

The mission of the Center is to conduct basic and applied research and disseminate information to the citizens of Louisiana in a manner that is essential in addressing their scientific, technological, social, economic and cultural needs of its clientele. SUAREC encompasses the Center for Small Farm Research, which was established in 1983, the Cooperative Extension Program, the SU Livestock Show and its state-of-the-art arena with a 385-acre agricultural research experiment station and the Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives, a satellite entity located in Opelousas. In 2016, the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences at Southern University in Baton Rouge was merged within the Southern University Ag Center with an inaugural Chancellor-Dean taking office effective September 1, 2016.

Dr. McMeans acknowledged the Southern University College of Ag student ambassadors, who all have done incredible jobs while serving in their volunteer roles in providing welcome remarks, introductions, and other tasks throughout the 20th Anniversary events. He encouraged the students to take every opportunity to serve in these roles for growth and learning experiences.

If you have not taken the opportunity to hear what the SU Ag Center speakers presented, please visit the SU Ag Center website to listen to the Speaker Series recordings. Each speaker brought a new perspective, their roles and experiences, and an impactful informational learning session as to how the SU Ag Center came to be and the need as well as its growth and continued mission. For more information on the 20th Anniversary, go to or follow them on social media @suagcenter.



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