Robert “Bob” E. Whitson grew up in the Panhandle town of Spearman. He earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University in 1974, after having earned his B.S. in Range Management in 1965 and his M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics in 1967, both from Texas Tech University. Dr. Whitson enjoyed a dual career early in his life, serving as a U.S. Army, Second/First Lieutenant, Active Duty, South Vietnam and Ft. Bliss, 1967-1969, and as Captain/Major, U.S. Army Reserves, 1969-1980, a principal staff officer for an Army Reserve Engineer Brigade responsible for a large staff and the development and implementation of programs to ensure material readiness of assigned units in four states. He served in this capacity while working as an Area Farm and Ranch Management Specialist for the Texas Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service (TCE) and writing his dissertation in Agricultural Economics, “Evaluating the Relationship Between Income and Uncertainty for a Texas Ranch Organization.” Following his graduation in 1974, he obtained a position as Assistant Professor in the Departments of Range Science and Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M; he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1977.
During his illustrative career, Dr. Whitson has attained success both with academic and research excellence and also in the “real world.” He worked for Frost National Bank for 12 years, ascending from Assistant Vice President in 1981 to Senior Vice President in 1984-1993. His responsibilities included managing a substantial and complex portfolio of real estate, farm, and ranch assets. In 1994, he returned to Texas A&M University as Professor and Head of the Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management to lead a department of 34 teaching, research, and extension faculty, both on-campus and at six Research and Extension Centers across the State.
Dr. Whitson, during his time at TAMU, held several posts that contributed to agricultural well-being and stakeholders throughout the state, nation, and world. During his tenure as Associate Vice Chancellor and Associate Dean, Agriculture and Life Science, Deputy Director, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (TAES), Texas A&M University/Texas A&M University System, and as Interim Department Head of the Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, he worked to address emerging issues important to agriculture. His interaction with employees of TAES and TCE ensured that programs, leadership, research, and teaching were at levels of excellence and high standards beneficial to all stakeholders.
Bob has been Vice President of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (DANSR) at Oklahoma State University since May of 2005. He serves not only as vice president of DANSR, but also as Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Director of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, and Director of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. Recently, he was appointed to Oklahoma Governor Henry’s Science and Technology Council.
Dr. Whitson, throughout his career from military service to leadership at OSU, has always included commitment to service and benefit to others as part of his life and work. His numerous awards, from an “Exemplary” evaluation in a review to memberships in multiple honorary societies, to professional activities, and to service organizations, are recognitions of his unselfish devotion to TAMU and particularly to Agriculture.
Bob and his wife, Linda, have two daughters and two sons-in-law, Cristie and Craig, Susan and Brad, and five grandchildren, Caroline, Parker, Chandler, Peyton, and Colby.