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September 12, 2011   Email to Friend 

ALABAMA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SYSTEM ANNOUNCES NEW DIRECTOR
Joe Touchton
334-844-3952
September 12, 2011

Dr. Gary Lemme
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System welcomes its new director, Dr. Gary Lemme, who will begin his new job Oct. 1. Lemme replaces retiring Extension Director Gaines Smith.

Lemme becomes the third director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. The System was created in 1995 when Extension programs at Alabama A&M and Auburn universities were joined. ACES is the primary outreach organization for the two universities' land-grant mission providing real-life solutions and helping improve the lives of all Alabamians. The presidents of both universities say Lemme brings the type of leadership Extension requires as it continues to adapt to the changing needs and demands of its clients.

"Over the past decade, Extension in Alabama has undergone profound changes organizationally, structurally and programmatically. The changes, under the leadership of the Extension director and the 1890 Extension administrator, have paved the way for an organization uniquely situated to broaden its scope of outreach by integrating the total scope of the universities' programs of academics and research to meet the needs of Alabama citizens," says Dr. Andrew Hugine, president of Alabama A&M University. "Moreover, its influence nationally and internationally continues to open new vistas of service. The background and expertise of Dr. Lemme fit well with the future directions of ACES. We look forward to his courageous and strategic leadership."

Auburn University Jay Gogue echoes Dr. Hugine's thoughts.

"We are excited about Dr. Lemme's leadership in Extension and his role in providing Alabamians the services of their two land-grant institutions," Gogue says. "The role of Extension is ever changing and involves people and programs in both rural and urban areas. I believe he will take Extension to new heights while continuing the successful guidance provided by its former directors."

Lemme comes to Alabama Extension from South Dakota State University, where he has been most recently a professor in the Department of Plant Science. A soil scientist by training, he is also the former dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. He holds both bachelor's and master's degrees from South Dakota State. He completed his doctoral work at the University of Nebraska.

In addition to his tenure at South Dakota State University, Lemme has held a variety of leadership positions at several land-grant institutions including Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Hawaii.

Lemme says he is excited to join the ACES family.

"I look forward to working with the Extension professionals of ACES as we optimize Extension resources at both universities," said Lemme. "The unique joint system of Alabama Extension is one reason I was attracted to the position. Two land-grant institutions working in concert through Extension can provide citizens with a vast and diverse body of knowledge."

In particular, he notes that environmental stewardship, economic development and quality of life issues are areas where Extension can lead and make a difference in the lives of everyone in Alabama.

Retiring Extension Director Gaines Smith says he is confident that Extension professionals will have a strong new leader.

"While I have thoroughly enjoyed my 45-year career, I can retire knowing that I am turning the reins over to a director who is committed to the Extension's mission and goals," says Smith. "We will work closely for the next several weeks to ensure a smooth transition."

Dr. Virginia Caples, the 1890 Extension administrator, says she was attracted to Dr. Lemme's understanding and practical demonstration of shared leadership and governance.

"The application of these two characteristics coupled with visionary and viable programs should keep ACES at the forefront of Extension leadership nationally and internally," said Caples. "I look forward to working with him in providing progressive and strategic leadership for ACES."

Auburn University began its Cooperative Extension Service in 1914, while Alabama A&M University's Extension program began in 1971.


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