Brady Deaton has announced that he will retire from his position as chancellor of the University of Missouri, effective Nov. 15.
Deaton has made Mizzou his home for 24 years. He joined the MU faculty as a professor and chair of the Agricultural Economics Department in 1989. He was appointed chief of staff in the Office of the Chancellor in 1993, deputy chancellor in 1997 and provost in 1998. He has served as MU’s chancellor and its 21st chief executive officer since 2004.
Under Deaton’s leadership, the university has experienced significant increases in overall student enrollment, minority student enrollment, research grants and expenditures, patents and licenses, fundraising and hiring of prestigious faculty. Since 2004 Mizzou has reduced its carbon footprint, opened 21 new buildings and transitioned to the Southeastern Conference. A lifelong advocate of responsible global citizenship, Deaton has expanded MU’s international reach and backed the university’s efforts in research, education and policy to help feed the world.
Deaton grew up on his family farm in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains, living in homes that had neither plumbing nor electricity and studying at a two-room schoolhouse. In his early years, he says, he couldn’t have envisioned the life he now lives as the chancellor of a major research university.
“I was just very committed to gaining an education and doing something worthwhile that I felt good about,” Deaton says.
Deaton’s passion for agricultural economics began in childhood. He joined 4-H at age 10 and as a university student became a national dairy judge champion. He holds three degrees in agricultural economics: a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Deaton’s interest and expertise in agriculture merged with another great passion, international affairs, when he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand 1962-1964. In 1968 he earned a master’s degree in diplomacy and international commerce from UK. Since then Deaton has visited more than 18 countries for professional activities — and many others for leisure and family trips — and has brought a global perspective to Mizzou. He has been awarded honorary degrees from universities in Korea, India and Thailand, has helped bring the Confucius Institute to Mizzou and has made a chancellorial proclamation designating the fourth Tuesday in September MU International Day.
In 2011 international affairs and agricultural economics merged harmoniously when President Barack Obama appointed Deaton chair of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, a prestigious advisory council to the United States Agency for International Development. The board held its most recent meeting on the MU campus in March.
In recent years Deaton’s work has included many interactions with world leaders here and abroad.
“It’s very exciting. I think it makes us realize that everyone in the world is part of the world that we’re living in. We’re all part of the mosaic of human existence and human potential,” Deaton says. “There is no group of people out there different from us that are making all the decisions affecting our lives and social conditions on a day-to-day basis. You’ve got to be responsible with what you’re doing and the kinds of decisions you make.”
Brady Deaton’s wife, Anne Deaton, also has made a significant impact on Mizzou. She has served as an adjunct professor in the College of Education, the College of Human Environmental Sciences and the Sinclair School of Nursing. An advocate for children, seniors and women, she serves on the Boone County Coordinating Board for Early Childhood Education, Rotary Club’s World Community Service, Missouri 4-H, Step-Up, Parent Link Advisory Board, the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurological Disorders Advisory Board, the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women, MU Friends of Music and the Missouri Autism Response and Research Association. She helped found the first MU student chapter of the American Association for University Women. Anne Deaton also is a tireless mentor for students, particularly international students.
The Deatons are the parents of four children and seven grandchildren, with whom they say they look forward to spending more time. Three of their children, their son-in-law and one daughter-in-law earned degrees at Mizzou.
“This has been very much a family affair at the University of Missouri,” Deaton says.
The couple plans to continue living in Columbia as the chancellor undertakes new projects related to global food security and serves as an active chancellor emeritus.