Auburn University names new head of Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – The Auburn University Department of Agronomy and Soils has a new name, and a 1979 alumnus of the program is returning to head what is now the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture Dean Bill Batchelor has announced.

John Beasley Jr., a professor and Extension peanut agronomist in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at the University of Georgia – Tifton campus, will assume his new position at Auburn Jan. 1. He succeeds Joe Touchton, who is retiring from 33 years on the Auburn faculty and 24 years as department head.

The university’s Board of Trustees approved the department’s renaming at its April meeting. The College of Agriculture proposed the name change to more accurately reflect the academic programs the department offers; to increase its visibility among prospective students, research sponsors and the general public; and to bring the department’s name in line with similar programs offered at peer institutions.

After graduating from Auburn with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and soils, Beasley completed his master’s degree at Oklahoma State University and in 1985 received his Ph.D. in crop science at Louisiana State University. He began his career that same year as an assistant professor and Extension specialist at the University of Georgia. In 1991, he was promoted to associate professor, and five years later, he attained the rank of professor.

Throughout his career, Beasley has received numerous awards and is a Fellow of both the American Society of Agronomy and the American Peanut Research and Education Society.

The department name change will be reported to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

(Written by Josh Woods.)

Contacts: Josh Woods, College of Agriculture, (334) 844-5887 (, or
Charles Martin, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (