I once again want to express my gratitude for all of the great innovation and commitment you have demonstrated over the last few months in adapting to the changing landscape and responding to our stakeholder needs in a way that ensures AgriLife’s long-term effectiveness.
The pandemic has revealed new challenges and opportunities for AgriLife as we meet the evolving needs of Texas, and has also placed a spotlight on the amazing talent we have throughout our College and agencies. As we look at the tremendous opportunity ahead to positively impact the lives of Texans, today I am pleased to share that we are tapping into existing expertise to allow us to continue our path to success.
The following individuals, in addition to their current roles, will now serve in an expanded capacity within the Vice Chancellor’s Office:
- Chris Skaggs, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will now also serve as Associate Vice Chancellor of Producer Relations.
- Bart Fischer, Ph.D., Co-Director of the Agricultural Food and Policy Center, will take on an added role as Senior Advisor for Federal Relations.
- Rick Vierling, Ph.D., Director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon, will serve in an additional role as Senior Advisor for Business Strategy.
Chris Skaggs, Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor for Producer Relations
In his expanded role as Associate Vice Chancellor for Producer Relations, Dr. Skaggs will work collaboratively with the Assistant and Associate Vice Chancellors to support the strategic plan and vision of AgriLife. He will also work closely with producers, stakeholders, commodity groups and former students to effectively communicate AgriLife initiatives.
Skaggs has long served the College in coordinating student development activities, serving as the College’s liaison to the university organizations and associations. He is a professor in the Department of Animal Science and holds the San Antonio Livestock Exposition Endowed Chair. He has been an undergraduate student academic advisor, assisted in recruitment efforts for the department and the College, and has coordinated the livestock judging team program. He also has judged many national livestock shows, including the San Antonio Livestock Exposition and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He has judged cattle shows in 38 states.
Skaggs earned bachelor’s degrees in animal science and agricultural education from Texas Tech University. He earned a master’s degree in animal science from Kansas State University and a doctorate in animal science from Iowa State University.
Bart Fischer, Ph.D., Senior Advisor for Federal Relations
In his expanded role within the Vice Chancellor’s Office, Dr. Fischer will work closely with the Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor regarding federal relations, engagement and funding opportunities. He will assist in AgriLife’s outreach with congressional staff and members as well as agency personnel.
Before joining the Agricultural and Food Policy Center in 2019, Fischer served more than eight years at the House Committee on Agriculture as chief economist, serving under two chairmen, Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Rep. K. Michael Conaway of Texas. For the last two and a half years on the committee, he also served as deputy staff director.
During his time on the committee, Fischer helped usher through the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills. He worked closely with numerous members of Congress, congressional staffers, executive branch officials and stakeholders in developing legislative language and later reconciling the House and Senate bills. He was involved in every major agricultural policy development in Washington, D.C. during his eight years with the committee and has made countless presentations to agricultural and food organizations, keeping them informed on the latest policy and political developments.
Fischer is from Chattanooga, Oklahoma, where he still farms with his family. He earned bachelor’s degrees in agricultural economics and business administration from Oklahoma State University, a master’s degree in environmental policy from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University.
Rick Vierling Ph.D., Senior Advisor for Business Strategy
In his expanded role of Senior Advisor for Business Strategy, Dr. Vierling will assist in the development of AgriLife professional service units’ business models and assessment strategies, public-private partnerships, and other initiatives that positively impact AgriLife through business strategy, models and partnerships.
Vierling has served since 2017 as director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon. Prior to joining AgriLife, he served as the National Corn Growers Association Director of Research and Business Development for six years. He was also a faculty member at Purdue University and Director of the Indiana Crop Improvement Genetics program.
He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri and his doctorate from Texas Tech University.
In closing, please join me in welcoming Drs. Skaggs, Fischer and Vierling to these key roles with Texas A&M AgriLife. I am excited to continue building on an already strong foundation, aimed at delivering on our land-grant mission of education, service, research and extension. I am confident that as we continue to respond and adapt to the changing needs of the state, we will positively impact the lives of Texans for years to come.
Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Texas A&M AgriLife
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research