Ivory W. Lyles is the new director of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and associate dean for engagement in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. He started in this new position Nov. 1.
"I'm pleased to welcome Dr. Lyles to campus," Bill Payne, dean of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources and administrator for Cooperative Extension, said. "It's wonderful to get our organizational positions filled for the new administrative structure for the college and Cooperative Extension. I look forward with great expectation as he leads Cooperative Extension during this exciting transition period that promises growth and increasing impact - throughout the state - of this vital University component."
Lyles comes to the University from Alcorn State University in Mississippi, where he was a professor in the Department of Agriculture and dean and director of Land-Grant Programs. Prior to that, he was director of Cooperative Extension Service and associate vice president of agriculture at the University of Arkansas - Little Rock for about nine years. He is eager to get moving in his new position; so eager that, by the second day, he already had set up meetings with key constituents and leadership around the state - and has a set of goals in place.
As CABNR's associate dean for engagement, Lyles is charged with leveraging the full range of expertise within the University and all Nevada System of Higher Education institutions to address the needs and challenges of citizens throughout Nevada. As director of Cooperative Extension, Lyles reports to Payne and has full signatory authority for the Extension budget.
CABNR, with its four departments, the Cooperative Extension and the Nevada Agriculture Experiment Station, embodies the classic land-grant mission working closely together in an integrated fashion to provide education, outreach and research to Nevada.
"The state is rich with history of Cooperative Extension," Lyles said from his new office in Fleishmann Agriculture Building - with its bare walls and uncluttered desk. "I've done a lot of Extension work, and Nevada is an exciting place. I'm looking forward to this opportunity to help set new directions to bring the entire University into our outreach throughout the state."
Engaging Nevada Communities
Cooperative Extension is the unit of the University of Nevada, Reno that is engaged in all Nevada communities, both rural and urban, presenting research-based knowledge to address critical community needs. Since 1914, it has provided statewide education programs, workshops, research and publications to help Nevada residents and communities solve problems and deal with critical issues in agriculture; children, youth and families, community development; health and nutrition; natural resources; and horticulture. Part of Lyles' task is to make sure all parts of the University's land-grant mission are embraced.
"The University and the colleges and the departments are all full partners in the efforts, not separate, a part of the University," he said. "Bringing together the University of Nevada, Reno can provide exceptional input to the state - and not just agriculture, but from all colleges and all resources of the University. As part of our needs assessments in each community, if we find that a need arises say, in an economic sense, we can go to the College of Business with that need and see how we can all work together and say, 'Here's how it will benefit you (the college) to assist the community'."
As he begins, Lyles has identified five general objectives, including, in his own words:
1. Put a structure in place for effective programs all functioning in a way that benefits the citizens of the state.
2. Find the best people to fit our mission. We have a large group of people aging out of our institution; it will be important to - and we will focus on - filling those positions to build for the future.
3. Ensure we encompass all parts of the land-grant mission: teaching, research and outreach. The University, the colleges and departments are all full partners in the efforts, and not separate parts of the University.
4. Develop relationships at the University and at other NSHE institutions, and with stakeholders and constituents throughout the state to support our missions to serve citizens.
5. Increase focus on grant, donor and state funding to develop our programs, especially working with donors.
"Next is to put together a timeline - for the next six months, the next year and beyond - for implementation of our goals and to get more specific. We can't get it done overnight."
While Lyles said he takes a common-sense approach with a let's get it done attitude, he takes his leadership seriously, as evidenced by his curriculum vitae.
"My leadership philosophy is based on understanding and integrating research, facts, situations, experiences and theories, while putting this knowledge into common-sense practices through actions," he writes in his CV. "There must be a strong belief in self-responsibility, team outcome and impact. I model the ideals and principles in which I believe in all that I aspire to do."
He looks forward to traveling the state to learn the landscape, with 18 Cooperative Extension offices serving Nevadans, whether in the most rural county or the most populous urban center.
"Building relationships and communicating with our constituents, county leaders, legislators, stakeholders and peers is crucial," he said. "I'm going to take some time, learn some names, meet some colleagues and partners, both on and off campus, so we can put ideas and programs together."
Lyles received his doctorate in agricultural education, community and rural development in 1990 from The Ohio State University, his master's in Extension education and education leadership in 1984 from Mississippi State University and his bachelors in agricultural economics in 1980 from Alcorn State University in Mississippi. Prior to his Extension leadership positions at Alcorn State University and the University of Arkansas, Lyles held Cooperative Extension positions at the University of Tennessee, Tennessee State University, The Ohio State University and Mississippi State University.
On a personal note, he is married to Pauletta M. Lyles and father of four adult children.