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UKAg Dean Scott Smith receives Lyons award for outstanding service

(l-r) UK Political Science Chair Ernest Yanarella, Ag Dean Scott Smith, A&S Dean Mark Kornbluh
(l-r) UK Political Science Chair Ernest Yanarella, Ag Dean Scott Smith, A&S Dean Mark Kornbluh

PHOTO: Matt Barton
LEXINGTON, Ky.,

Throughout his career Scott Smith, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, has worked to improve the college and the community it serves. His dedication was honored this week when Smith received the William E. Lyons Award for Outstanding Service from UK’s Martin School of Public Policy and Administration and the Department of Political Science.

“It has been an honor to work alongside so many faculty and staff with such a strong commitment and so much talent for public service,” Smith said.

Smith’s nominators highlighted his creative and effective leadership of the college during tumultuous times for Kentucky agriculture. He led research and extension efforts within the college to aid farmers as they transitioned from an age-old tobacco economy to a more diverse portfolio of agricultural enterprises. He also served on statewide committees with other agriculture leaders to aid farmers as they maneuvered into new or expanded opportunities.

“Instead of faltering, Kentucky’s farm gate receipts grew from $3 billion to $5 billion after the elimination of the federal tobacco program,” said Nancy Cox, College of Agriculture associate dean of research and one of the nominators.

Under Smith’s leadership, the college’s external funding increased from about $10 million to more than $30 million annually. Also during his tenure, UK Cooperative Extension Service was strengthened, and today is among the nation’s leaders in such areas as youth participation.

“Innovations like fine arts extension, Health Education through Extension Leadership, and the Community and Economic Development Initiative for Kentucky have improved the quality of life across the state and brought national distinction to UK,” said Jimmy Henning, associate dean for extension and another of Smith’s nominators.

As dean, Smith helped bring a U.S. Department of Agriculture research lab to campus, created the UKAg Equine Program, sustainable agriculture program and forest practices, and mine land reforestation programs. He also led efforts to update and expand the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which serves the veterinary community across the state.

He has overseen growth of The Arboretum, State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, in collaboration with community leaders and volunteers and opened the UK farms to the Legacy Bike Trail in northern Fayette County.

On the university level, he served as interim provost from 2005 to 2006, co-authored the university’s Top 20 business plan and initiated the translation of the business plan to an academic strategic plan. Initiatives started, continued or completed during his term as interim provost included the creation of Commonwealth Collaboratives, widespread curriculum reform, the creation of the Chellgren Center, and the elimination of a mandatory retirement age for administrative faculty.

“Throughout his career at the University of Kentucky, Scott Smith has provided remarkable leadership for both the land-grant and academic missions of the University of Kentucky,” said Mark Kornbluh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a co-nominator. “He has ensured that academic excellence and broad community impact go hand and hand at UK. His legacy is a lasting improvement in the College of Agriculture, the University of Kentucky, and the Commonwealth.”

Smith is the 19th recipient of the William E. Lyons Award, established to honor Lyons’s career and public service. During his tenure Lyons, a professor of political science and public administration who died in 1994, served as director of the Martin School and chaired the political science department.

Lyons’s career accomplishments, in addition to an outstanding academic career, were noteworthy for his service to the university, the community and Kentucky. Such contributions now constitute the criteria for this prestigious award. This honor is given annually to an individual associated with the university who has given outstanding service to UK, the community, the state or the nation.

Contact: 

Nancy Cox, 859-257-3333; Jimmy Henning, 859-257-4302

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