Dr. Greg Phillips comes to ASU from
New Mexico State University
Dr. Greg Phillips is ASU's new dean of the College of Agriculture

If Greg Phillips hadnít become interested in plant breeding and genetics, he says he might be starving right now.

Or to better put it, he might be a starving performance artist. During his high school and undergraduate years at the University of Kentucky, the new dean of Arkansas State Universityís College of Agriculture earned extra money playing in a folk/rock band in a coffeehouse near the UK campus.

But another part-time job working with plant genetics technology hooked him for life. After earning his Bachelorís degree in Philosophy, he earned his Ph.D. in crop science with an emphasis in breeding and genetics in 1981.

For 22 years thereafter, he was a member of the faculty at New Mexico State University, where his primary research focus was the genetic engineering of the chili pepper. He also conducted research on onions, pecans, alfalfa and cotton, including the Acala 1519 variety.

Additionally he served as the interim director of the stateís Center of Excellence in plant genetic engineering from 1983-85, and was the Centerís associate director from 1985-90.

Since 1979, he has been editor-in-chief of the scientific journal, In vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant, a position in which he will continue to serve at Arkansas State.

Dr. Phillips said the transition to develop stronger graduate and research programs is one of the things that attracted him to ASU, and he looks forward to working with the faculty in building those programs.

"What was also attractive to me was the strong level of support the College of Agriculture receives from its alumni and the agricultural community," Dr. Phillips noted. "Industry in the region is well developed, and it includes a number of food processing companies."

Dr. Phillips said he hopes to develop a vision for the College of Agriculture using advisory committees of alumni, faculty, students and agricultural leaders in the region.

"I want to involve each of these groups in the process," he said. "I think the College of Agriculture is hungry to develop an identity and focus. I believe these groups will help us as we decide where we as a college are going and how we will get there."

Dr. Phillips said heíd also like to see a strengthening of graduate programs, including a doctoral-level degree within the college or in conjunction with other disciplines. Additionally, he said he wants to help faculty members develop reputations in national and international circles through their publications and research.

He also said he is working to develop an associates degree in food technology that might be in place for the 2004 academic year.

"The College of Agriculture will continue to focus on the production aspect of the food industry, but Iíd like to see us expand to working with the food processing industry and the technology involved in that aspect of agriculture," he said.

But what about the music career?

Well, he still plays the guitar, and has even produced some instrumental compositions. He focuses on jazz to rock.

And the coffeehouse gig wasnít so bad either; itís where he met his wife. They have a 22-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter who has started her junior year at Jonesboro High School.

He said they are happy to have made the move to ASU and Jonesboro, and he looks forward to meeting and working with alumni and the agricultural community.

"I continue to be impressed with the alumniís devotion to the college," he said. "My door is open to alumni and friends, and Iíd be happy to meet those who come by."

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