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R. Rodney Foil enters national Hall of Fame
R. Rodney Foil of Starkville is among the first inductees into a newly created U.S. Department of Agriculture hall of fame.
The Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service at USDA recognized 10 individuals from across the nation for their support for research, education and extension in advancing knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities. The CSREES Hall of Fame was created this year to recognize the agency's 10th anniversary.
Foil, retired vice president for Mississippi State University's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, was nominated by his peers for the honor.
"These 10 individuals have provided leadership, commitment and support throughout their varied and stellar careers for the development and transfer of knowledge in partnership with this agency and the land-grant university community," said Colien Hefferan, CSREES administrator. "Their individual contributions are seen in the success and impact of myriad programs throughout the United States and worldwide."
In 1994, as chair of the CSREES Board on Agriculture, Foil worked with board members and advocacy groups to create CSREES as a separate and strengthened agency, rather than a subdivision of the Agriculture Research Service.
At MSU, Foil also served as head of the Department of Forestry and then dean of the School of Forest Resources, as well as associate director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. Foil was named director of MAFES in 1978, and Experiment Station research prospered during his eight years of leadership. He was named a vice president in 1986.
After Foil retired from MSU in 1999, he began overseeing the CSREES Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems. Under his guidance, grants totaling more than $240 million were awarded to address high-priority agricultural problems.
Foil grew up in Bogalusa, La., and received his undergraduate and master's degrees in forestry from Louisiana State University. He later earned a doctorate in forestry from Duke University. He began his career as a commercial land management forester and later returned to LSU to work in research, teaching and extension positions. In 1969, he moved to Mississippi State, where he spent the rest of his career.