(12/13/22) BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU AgCenter has named two well-established leaders to key director positions.
Michael Salassi will serve as interim executive associate vice president and director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station and Tara Smith as interim executive associate vice president and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service.
In these positions, Salassi and Smith will support the statewide efforts of research and extension.
Salassi currently serves as associate vice president and program leader for plant, animal, soil and water programs. He has been with the AgCenter for 28 years, previously serving as the assistant director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station and department head for Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness. As program leader, Salassi coordinated statewide research and extension functions within his program areas.
Salassi received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from LSU and a doctorate from Mississippi State University. He worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service in Washington, D.C., before returning to LSU as an associate professor in 1994. He became a full professor in 2002.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to lead the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station. I look forward to working with research faculty to expand our research opportunities and address the state’s agricultural industry needs,” Salassi said.
Smith is currently the director of the AgCenter Central Region. Her responsibilities include overseeing parish research, extension and 4-H programs. She also served as the statewide sweet potato specialist and as director of the Northeast Region. She has been with the AgCenter for 17 years.
Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, a master’s degree in biology from Louisiana Tech University and a doctorate in entomology from LSU.
“I look forward to this opportunity and to work with the Cooperative Extension network throughout the state, including our faculty, staff and constituents,” Smith said. “My overall goal is to work with our clientele to prioritize needs and further the mission of the Extension Service and the LSU AgCenter.”
Matt Lee, interim vice president for agriculture, said the LSU AgCenter continues to prioritize resources to ensure the continued success and growth of agricultural industries and economics. He is working to expand opportunities for research and extension opportunities with federal agencies and industry partners.
“This change to the AgCenter’s administrative structure will allow for a more comprehensive approach to advance the state’s research and extension initiatives to the next level and allow us to be laser-focused on providing stakeholders with resources that improve lives,” Lee said.
Michael Salassi will serve as interim executive associate vice president and director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter
Tara Smith will serve as interim executive associate vice president and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter