December 17, 2014 | By: Carl Nathe

Seventy-two years after he was born in Laurel County, Brady Deaton will receive the greatest honor the University of Kentucky can bestow, its honorary degree, at UK's December Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony this Friday, Dec. 19. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum on the UK campus.

Deaton grew up on his family's farm in the Appalachian Mountains, living in homes that had neither plumbing nor electricity and studying at a two-room schoolhouse. 4-H, part of the University of Kentucky's Cooperative Extension Service within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, played an important role in Deaton's early life and development. He joined 4-H when he was 10, and the program taught him a lot about service to his community and established what was to become a lifelong interest in the economics of agriculture. That interest grew into a passion at UK where he earned his bachelor's degree in agricultural economics.

Deaton's curiosity ranged well beyond Kentucky and the United States. Service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand for two years ignited a desire to learn more about international affairs. He went on to attain a master's degree from UK's Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce. This ever-broadening perspective and open-minded outlook would continue to serve Deaton well as he pursued a career in teaching, research, and academic leadership.

Deaton received a Master of Science and doctoral degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin before accepting a faculty appointment at the University of Tennessee. During this time, he was appointed as staff director of the Special Task Force on Food for Peace for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. Deaton next accepted a professorship at Virginia Tech in the Department of Agricultural Economics, where he also served as coordinator of the Rural Development Research and Extension Program, and later as associate director of the Office for International Development.

After 11 years at Virginia Tech, Deaton joined the University of Missouri faculty as professor and chair of the Agricultural Economics Department and head of the Social Science Unit in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. His qualities as a leader caught the notice of others on the campus in Columbia, and he was appointed chief of staff in the Chancellor's Office, then deputy chancellor, and eventually provost, the chief academic officer at Mizzou. Over time, Deaton's responsibilities were expanded to incorporate Student Affairs and Business Services and his title was elevated to executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Three-and-a-half years later, in the fall of 2004, Brady Deaton was selected as chancellor of the University of Missouri-Columbia, with 'chancellor' being equivalent to president at most other major universities. He distinguished himself in that role for more than nine years until his retirement in November 2013.

"As a native Kentuckian and alumnus of the University of Kentucky, Brady’s stellar career and great accomplishments bring high honor and deep pride to this university and the Commonwealth," said C. Oran Little, dean emeritus of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. "A distinguished student, a challenging teacher, an innovative researcher and a strong leader in increasingly responsible administrative positions truly reflect the tremendous work and dedicated commitment of an exemplary individual."

Deaton served as chair of the Academic Affairs Council of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and is a recipient of the Malone Award from the
APLU for furthering international education in public higher education. He also served a two-year term as chair of the Missouri Council on Public Higher Education and chaired the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors.

In 2011, international affairs and agricultural economics merged harmoniously when President Barack Obama appointed Deaton as chair of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, a vital advisory council to the United States Agency for International Development. He was reappointed in 2012 for a four-year term in the post.

In 2013, in honor of Deaton and his wife, Anne, the University of Missouri Board of Curators unanimously approved the establishment of the Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development. The institute is housed on the Mizzou campus in Columbia.

From modest beginnings in 1942, all the way to an honorary Doctor of Science degree from his alma mater in 2014, Brady Deaton's story certainly is an inspiring one.

Also receiving an honorary degree during the undergraduate ceremony on Friday is Lexington businessman and philanthropist Don Jacobs. 


Carl Nathe, 859-257-3200;

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