Clarence E. Watson, formerly associate director and chief operating officer of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, is the new director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

Watson will also have the title of associate vice president-research in the Division of Agriculture. The statewide Division has faculty and staff on five campuses, at regional centers and other units, and in Cooperative Extension Service offices in all 75 counties. The Division includes the Experiment Station, which is the research component, and the Extension Service, which provides educational services.

Watson was selected in a national search to fill the position vacated by Cochran when he accepted the vice presidency in January 2011. Watson has held his current position at Oklahoma State University since 2006. He was associate director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station from 2002 to 2006.

Watson “has proven leadership and management skills, and he is dedicated to the land-grant university mission of research, teaching and Extension,” said University of Arkansas System Vice President for Agriculture Mark Cochran. “He is an innovator with an outstanding record as a scientist, educator and administrator. I believe he will help our faculty and staff continue to meet the critical needs of our clientele for research to provide science-based solutions to relevant problems in the state and nation."

Watson said, "I am excited to be joining the U of A Division of Agriculture. The Division has a great group of innovative and dedicated faculty and staff. I look forward to working with faculty, producers and industry leaders to grow and promote agriculture in Arkansas and address the needs of the citizens of Arkansas."

Watson has B.S. and M.S. degrees in agronomy from New Mexico State University and a Ph.D. degree in crop science from Oregon State University. He joined the agronomy department faculty at Mississippi State University in 1976.

At MSU Watson taught plant breeding and quantitative genetics and conducted a forage grass breeding research program. He trained 28 graduate students in his research program and developed seven improved grass varieties and a number of germplasm releases that were made available to the global plant breeding community.

In 1992 Watson became head of the MSU Experimental Statistics Unit in addition to his other responsibilities. He was interim head of the agronomy department from 2000 to 2002 and associate director of the Experiment Station from 2002 until 2006, when he accepted the position at OSU.

Watson was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy in 2003. He was chair of the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors from 2008-2009 and the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy, 2009-2010. He received the SAAESD Leadership Award in 2011.

The Oklahoma Experiment Station is in the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, which is similar to the U of A System's Division of Agriculture, with faculty at campuses, research stations, centers and county offices providing statewide research and Extension programs. In states, many research and Extension faculty members also have joint appointments as teaching faculty on a university campus.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture conducts research and Extension programs in five strategic areas: Agricultural Production and Processing; Environment, Energy and Climate; Access to Safe and Nutritious Food; Increasing Opportunities for Families and Youth; and Economic and Community Development.