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A veterinarian and expert in teaching and community engagement has been chosen as the new dean of UT Extension in the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.

Ashley M. Stokes, who currently serves as associate vice president for engagement and extension and deputy director of extension at Colorado State University, will begin her new role as the leader of UT Extension February 22, 2021. Tim Cross, senior vice president and senior vice chancellor of UTIA, made the announcement in a letter to faculty, staff, and other stakeholders.

“With extensive leadership experience in all aspects of extension and engagement, Dr. Stokes brings a wealth of knowledge in overseeing operations, personnel, county and state relations, and engagement throughout the university setting,” Cross said.

Ashley M. Stokes, dean of UT Extension in the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
Ashley M. Stokes, dean of UT Extension in the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.

Stokes is the first woman to serve as dean of UT Extension in its more than 100 years of service to Tennesseans. Established in 1910, UT Extension includes more than 60 subject-matter experts specializing in agriculture production and natural resources management as well as family and consumer sciences and youth development. It provides agents strategically located in offices in every county in the state and works with local governments to provide an array of adult learning opportunities while also managing Tennessee 4-H, the state’s branch of the US Department of Agriculture’s national youth development and leadership program. With more than 168,000 participants in club-based programs, Tennessee 4-H is among the nation’s largest 4-H programs.

Stokes has a broad history of service to the national cooperative extension system. Her current duties at CSU include responsibilities with CSU Extension and CSU Online. She also is part of the leadership for the CSU Office of Community and Economic Development; the Colorado Water Center; and international projects in Ethiopia, Japan, and the Western Pacific region focused on university collaboration with communities to address local, regional and global challenges. She previously served as assistant dean of the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

Stokes has attained national prominence serving on executive committees for Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Extension Directors Association. In November the University of Tennessee was designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the APLU.

Stokes has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and both a DVM and PhD from the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, where she also served on the faculty in veterinary clinical sciences. Starting in 2009, she spent six years at the University of Hawai‘i, where she was the sole veterinary extension specialist serving the state and several territories throughout the Western Pacific. She conducted veterinary research while at UH and taught pre-veterinary and animal science courses. She also has an MBA from Colorado State University with a focus on marketing and communications.

Stokes has been recognized with the Top 40 Under 40 award in her hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In Hawaii she received the Excellence in Teaching award for her college at UH, the Ka Pouhana Student Mentorship award, and the Hōkū Leadership award, and was named Hawaii Cattleman/Cattlewoman of the Year. She is included in Who’s Who in Colorado Agriculture and received the Public Service Award from the International Animal Transportation Association for her collaborative research on livestock transportation. Stokes was inducted into the Academy of Veterinary Consultants in 2014.

Stokes is thrilled to return to the Southeast. She is also looking forward to working throughout Tennessee to improve the lives of citizens in the state and region. “UT Extension is one of the strongest in the country, with traditional programs that have been robust for more than 100 years as well as new programs that are tailored to the ever-changing needs of our communities. I am thrilled and honored to join these incredible extension professionals as dean,” said Stokes. “Knowing the expertise within UTIA, across the UT System, and collaborations with many partners, it will be exciting to explore opportunities to broaden our programming as we grow our excellence to best serve those across Tennessee and beyond.”


Lisa Stearns (865-974-7368,​)​