May 02, 2012

Latour named Agricultural Sciences dean

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An administrator and researcher at Purdue University will become the next dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Mickey A. Latour is a professor in Purdue’s College of Agriculture. He is also associate dean for Purdue Extended Campus and chief director of Purdue University Distance Learning. He will begin his duties at SIU Carbondale on July 1, subject to approval by the SIU Board of Trustees.

“Dr. Latour’s extensive leadership and research experience will be a great benefit to the college and the University,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said in announcing the appointment. “He has a strong record of success in various administrative roles, both in the College of Agriculture and campus-wide at Purdue.”

Latour earned his doctorate in animal physiology in 1995 at Mississippi State University, where he also earned his Master of Science in physiology in 1992.  He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in animal science in 1990 at Southeastern Louisiana State University.

He joined the Purdue faculty as an assistant professor in 1997, earning promotion to associate professor in 2002 and full professor in 2010.

As a researcher in the College of Agriculture at Purdue, Latour focused on lipid manipulation in final meat products, involving graduate and undergraduate students in his work. His work has established him as a national leader in lipid metabolism, playing a major role in identifying so-called “soft fat” in swine and especially as lipid metabolism relates to the quality of bacon and bratwurst.

As chief director of distance learning, Latour oversaw MBA programs in agriculture and management, technology master’s degree programs, online veterinarian technology degrees, teaching certificates and others.  The distance-learning program brought in $10 million in new money for the various colleges and departments providing the courses. He also led a rapid expansion of online access to courses, which resulted in an explosion in distance learning enrollments.

He said his background in leading Purdue University’s centralized online education effort has given him a great deal of experience working across various reporting lines and with the private sector.

Latour said he sees the SIU Carbondale College of Agricultural Sciences emerging as a campus leader in student success in terms of retention and satisfaction through the efforts of its faculty and staff. 

In terms of goals, Latour said he envisions immediately working to align the College of Agricultural Sciences with the University’s strategic plan that is now under development, and to create new synergies across the campus. As part of this effort, he looks forward to contributing to the plan in areas such as curriculum, outreach, research and online initiatives.

Among his awards and honors, Latour received the Outstanding Teaching Award in Purdue’s Department of Animal Science in 2001, 2004 and 2007.  He received a Certificate of Excellence in the Classroom from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2004, and was named a National Teaching Fellow, North American Colleges and Teaching in Agriculture, in 2007.  In 2008, Latour was elected a Teaching Academy Fellow at Purdue.