COLLEGE STATION –Ed Smith was named Texas Cooperative Extension director today by the Texas A&M University System board of regents. Smith has been interim director since July 2004 and had been chosen sole finalist for the position in March.

"Dr. Smith is most deserving of this appointment," said Elsa Murano, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences, and director of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.

"He knows cooperative extension very well, having worked his way up through the ranks, starting as an assistant county agent 30 years ago. He is a strong champion for Extension, has a vision for its future, and is committed to ensuring its full contribution to fulfilling our land-grant mission of teaching, research and outreach."

Extension, a 91-year-old state agency within The Texas A&M University System, offers practical, how-to education programs based on university research in agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H and youth, and community development. The agency conducts local information and educational programming in all 254 Texas counties and operates with about 1,400 Extension agents, district and state specialists, and support staff.

Smith became associate director for agriculture and natural resource sciences in 2001. He started with the agency as an assistant agent in Gaines County in 1975. He also served as Extension agent for Terry County before becoming an Extension associate from 1980-81 and grain marketing and policy specialist 1982-87.

As an Extension economist, Smith's specialty has been farm policy and its impact on U.S. agriculture. H e was named Distinguished Roy B. Davis Professor of Agricultural Cooperation in Texas A&M University's department of agriculture economics in 1988.

His bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in agricultural economics are from Texas A&M.