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New Mexico State University

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NMSU announces Hagevoort as recipient of Endowed Dairy Chair

Date: 04/26/2011

Last year, New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences established a $1 million Endowed Dairy Chair to focus on the dairy industry and a committee of industry representatives was formed to select the right person for the position. NMSU recently announced the selection of its own Robert Hagevoort as the recipient of the chair.

From left, Mark Gladden, College of ACES development director; Lewis Topliff, Dairy Committee chairman; Robert Hagevoort, first Dairy Endowed Chair recipient and dairy Extension specialist; Dyanne Gonzales, Hagevoort's wife; President Barbara Couture; and Beverly Idsinga, executive director of Dairy Producers of New Mexico. (Courtesy photo)

Hagevoort, an Extension dairy specialist in Clovis, N.M., will use his position to address specific needs of the dairy industry - and also build upon and strengthen NMSU's current dairy program.

"NMSU is clear in its commitment to support the dairy industry in New Mexico with assistance as needed, because that's the flexibility the Endowed Dairy Chair has," Hagevoort said. "It is able to focus on those issues the industry needs help with, and which in general are going to be providing sound science and technical support for the many increasingly tough regulatory issues the industry is facing, both at the state and the federal level. This sound science can simultaneously benefit a new generation of students with a desire to study large herd dairy management at NMSU, ultimately aiding the industry with well-prepared dairy managers and allied industry representatives."

Because of the visibility the Endowed Dairy Chair will have and the attention it will draw, it can create unique funding opportunities, especially in today's competitive grant-funding environment, Hagevoort said. For example, NMSU's Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium, co-coordinated by Hagevoort, is being utilized as the wraparound tool for the research and teaching component of a recently-announced $9.2 million U.S. Department of Agriculture - Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Bovine Respiratory Disease grant.

"It puts NMSU - because of its unique dairy industry characteristics - in the driver's seat as it relates to potential funding for research and the development of cutting-edge innovative hands-on teaching and training programs for students and industry professionals," Hagevoort said.

Lewis Topliff, former NMSU dairy general manager, said dairy has grown to the point where the average production of dairy cows in New Mexico is the highest in the nation and is No. 1 in terms of economic importance in the state.

Before shutting down nearly 30 years ago, NMSU had a self-supporting dairy that came at no cost to taxpayers. Topliff said he remembers a time when the university processed its own milk in glass bottles, and homemade cottage cheese and ice cream was sold out of the dairy office at the Las Cruces campus.

He said he was grateful when he learned Dean Lowell Catlett planned to re-establish some of the most effective dairy-related programs and activities.

"We hope and know that Robert will accomplish this and will be a great help to the juniors (4-H and FFA), which is in the criteria for the chair. This decision was long overdue," Topliff said. "The unanimous decision of the committee was very easy to make. Robert is well known and has done a great job with the Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium."

"The industry-led dairy chair selection committee made a wise choice in choosing Robert Hagevoort as the first-ever recipient of the new College of ACES Dairy Endowed Chair," Catlett said. "Robert has proven NMSU's commitment to dairy, and has been instrumental in pulling together national university partners while simultaneously working to ensure the New Mexico dairy industry is well positioned for growth. This appointment solidifies the college's long-term plans to recognize and build upon the dairy industry's leading role in New Mexico."

Hagevoort, a native of the Netherlands, earned his bachelor's degree in tropical animal production from the Deventer College for Tropical Agriculture. He received a master's degree in range nutrition and a doctorate in animal nutrition from Texas A&M University.

Written by Audry Olmstead.

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