Burns Begins New Post as Assistant Dean of UT Extension
Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010 8:02 pm
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It’s a sweet return home to Tennessee for Robert Burns — both to a place and an organization he knows very well.
Dr. Burns has been named Assistant Dean for University of Tennessee Extension and has already started his new job. His area of specialty will be in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Resource Development. He will oversee seven departments within UT Extension on the UT agriculture campus in Knoxville, including Agricultural and Resource Economics; Animal Science; Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science; Entomology and Plant Pathology; Food Science and Technology; Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries; and Plant Sciences. Burns will work closely with department heads and Extension specialists throughout the state.
In addition, Dr. Burns’ duties will include work with the Tennessee Center for Profitable Agriculture in Spring Hill, and the Soil, Plant, and Pest Center located at the Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville. Dr. Burns will also be working in Rural Economic Development initiatives throughout Tennessee.
“I am very excited to re-join the UT Extension family during their Centennial year,” says Dr. Burns. “I’m looking forward to helping the UT Extension team provide programming that helps Tennesseans improve their lives on a daily basis.”
“Re-join” is the key word here. Dr. Burns is a home-grown Extension expert who holds three engineering degrees from the University, and worked for UT Extension as an assistant and associate professor from 1995 to 2004. His work focused on environmental engineering specialization projects, including the design of animal waste management systems, and nutrient planning for livestock and poultry. Dr. Burns also served as a Water Quality Specialist for UT Extension in that time. From 2004 until recently, he was a professor in agricultural biosystems engineering at Iowa State University.
Burns can claim both Middle and East Tennessee as home. He grew up on farms in Franklin and Blount counties, and worked as a Farm Manager at a cattle and tobacco operation in Walland during his college days at UT Knoxville. He says a return to UT Extension was a natural fit for him. “My association with UT Extension goes back to when I was a kid,” he says.
Dr. Burns says a key component of his work will be to provide UT Extension specialists the resources they need to help both agents and the citizens they serve within those counties. “The thing that’s really special about UT Extension is the strength of our county-based programs,” Dr. Burns says. “It’s really important to me that we support our counties and all the people we serve with science-based information.”
UT Extension operates in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties as the off-campus division of the UT Institute of Agriculture. An educational and outreach organization funded by federal, state and local governments, UT Extension, in cooperation with Tennessee State University, brings research-based information about agriculture, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development and resource development to the people of Tennessee where they live and work. 2010 marks the 100th year of Extension in Tennessee.