Ed Smith will become Texas Cooperative Extension interim director Sept. 1, according to Benton Cocanougher, Texas A&M University System interim chancellor.

Smith succeeds Chester Fehlis who will retire Aug. 31.

“Dr. Smith has a demonstrated record of outstanding leadership and service,” Cocanougher said. “Texas Cooperative Extension is an important part of the Texas A&M University System, and I am grateful that Ed Smith is available to step into this critical leadership role while we conduct a search for a new director.”

Smith said he will lead the agency with confidence, knowing the talent and commitment of staff all over the state.

“It is a honor to be entrusted with the leadership of Extension,” Smith said. “I step into this role knowing that I have a solid network of people throughout Texas.”

86-year-old state agency

Extension, an 86-year-old state agency within the Texas A&M University System, offers practical, how-to education based on university research in the areas of 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 county agents, district and state specialists, and support staff.

Smith moved into the administration level of Extension three years ago as associate director for agriculture and natural resource sciences. He has been with the agency for 29 years, joining as Gaines County assistant agent in 1975. He was the Extension agent for Terry County from 1977-80, an Extension associate from 1980-81 and grain marketing and policy specialist 1982-87.

As an Extension economist, farm policy and its impact on American agriculture was Smith's specialty. He was named Distinguished Roy B. Davis Professor of Agricultural Cooperation in Texas A&M's department of agriculture economics in 1988. He and a team of colleagues are well-known for developing economic models to assist in evaluating the impact of proposed policy changes on the agricultural economy on farmers, agribusinesses, consumers and taxpayers.

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