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OSU Agriculture begins new chapter with Lusk's leadership
Kansas Ag Connection - 09/20/2023

As Oklahoma State University begins another academic year, Dr. Jayson Lusk is settling into his new role as vice president and dean of OSU Agriculture.

Lusk is a professor, researcher, food economist and author who will write the next chapter of OSU Extension, Ag Research and the Ferguson College of Agriculture. He previously served as head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, home to the No. 4 agricultural economics program in the world, according to the 2022 Center for World University Rankings.

Lusk was a faculty member in the OSU Department of Agricultural Economics from 2005 through 2017 and served as an assistant professor at Mississippi State University for three years prior to that. He also completed a year as a visiting researcher at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research.

Oklahoma Roots

Returning to Stillwater feels right for both his career and family, Lusk said. His paternal grandmother was born in Rosedale, Oklahoma, to a family of 13 children who moved to Texas by covered wagon. Lusk grew up in a small farming community in the Texas panhandle, participating in 4-H and FFA activities and showing livestock.

“We were in football, basketball, track, one-act plays — if there was something going on at school, chances are we were probably doing it,” he said.

As a child, Lusk and his three siblings spent a lot of time learning about food and competing in 4-H cooking contests. While in FFA, he participated in cheese identification and milk-tasting competitions, which led him to complete a bachelor’s degree in food technology at Texas Tech University.

“My classmates and I were pretty good at those dairy science contests,” Lusk said. “We went to Texas Tech for regional competition and made it to state at Texas A&M. I got to know a lot of food science professors, and when I was offered a scholarship, I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Once at Texas Tech, Lusk took on a second, albeit brief, venture of which he has no regrets: He tried out for the basketball team.

“After about three weeks, they told me my services were no longer needed, but I got to learn what it was like to play a Division 1, high-level sport,” he said. “I thought I was good, but I wasn’t that good.”

Lusk’s college experience also included a summer internships at food processing plants in Dallas, which taught him key business principles of the food industry beyond science.

With the advice of mentors and advisors, Lusk next took on an economics doctorate fellowship in food and agriculture at Kansas State University.

“It was a good fit for me. My parents were teachers, and I thought I didn’t want to teach, but when I got to grad school, I realized a professor does a lot more than just teach,” he said. “There’s research, outreach and engagement.”

Lusk received his education in food science and technology at a time when consumers were developing a keen interest in food policy. Many shoppers were beginning to seek out out local food sources and ask where their food came from.

“I was in a good place at the right time where the kinds of projects I was working on were in the public eye and captured a lot of attention,” Lusk said.

Receiving a doctorate at K-State also marked a milestone in his personal life; he met his wife, Christy, in graduate school. A native of Topeka, Kansas, she earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s in agricultural economics.

The couple has two sons: their oldest is a junior studying agricultural economics at Purdue, and the youngest is a freshman at OSU. In his free time, Lusk enjoys golfing, cooking and spending time with his family at Table Rock Lake.


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