Thomas Gill Will Also Lead International Programs

Thomas Gill, 2015
Thomas Gill has been appointed to the UTIA Smith Chair for International Sustainable Agriculture. Dr. Gill is currently on the faculty of The Pennsylvania State University and will arrive on campus in July. Photo supplied by T. Gill.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has announced that Thomas Gill, a faculty member specializing in international agriculture at The Pennsylvania State University, will join UTIA as the Donald and Terry Smith Endowed Chair for International Sustainable Agriculture and Director of International Programs.

Established through a gift of UT alumni Donald and Terry Smith, the Chair for International Sustainable Agriculture will bring science-based, sustainable agricultural solutions to less economically developed countries of the world. Gill is expected to help enhance the agricultural success of disadvantaged farmers by leveraging the strength of UTIA programs through collaborations and partnerships with the world’s best scientists and others interested in advancing agricultural, natural resources and family and consumer sciences.

Working with UTIA faculty and others, Gill’s challenge is to forge public and private partnerships for UTIA faculty that will enhance food security and nutrition, improve sustainable natural resource management, reduce poverty and increase social equity. Potential partners include other national and international universities, governmental and non-governmental organizations and private foundations.

Donald (Donnie) Smith, who currently serves as CEO of Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, Inc., and his wife, Terry, pledged $3.2 million in December 2013 for the establishment of the Donald and Terry Smith Endowed Chair for International Sustainable Agriculture. Donnie Smith earned his undergraduate degree in animal science from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, and his wife, Terry, is a graduate of the College of Education. Smith was appointed CEO of Tyson in 2009; however, he has been with the company in various roles since 1980. The Smiths have a passion for seeking solutions to world hunger.

Larry Arrington, UTIA chancellor, is grateful to the Smith’s for their transformational gift to UTIA. “We share with the Smiths a vision and concern about feeding the world in the future. It’s projected that the population on this planet will be nine billion people by the year 2050, which means we have to produce twice as much food as we do today in 2050. We believe the Donnie and Terry Smith Chair in International Sustainable Agriculture will provide the leadership, through Dr. Gill, for the Institute of Agriculture to play a role in solving that problem.”

"Thanks to the generous Smith endowment, I am thrilled and honored to join the UTIA family! I am looking forward to working across the Institute and University with our partners around the world to further grow our international engagement to tackle the critically important challenges facing our global food and agricultural systems."

Gill earned his Ph.D. in interdisciplinary ecology from the University of Florida with a concentration in farming systems and also holds a master’s of science in tropical agriculture development from Reading University in the United Kingdom. His bachelor’s degree is in geography from the University of Cambridge in the U.K. Among his awards and recognitions is the 2012 AIARD (Association of International Agriculture and Rural Development) Young Professional Award.

Gill is expected on campus July 1.

The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and outreach through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.



Patricia McDaniels, UTIA Marketing and Communications, 615-835-4570,