College of Agricultural Sciences

Endowed Chairs

keith_belk_main[1]Monfort College Chair – Keith Belk

Dr. Keith Belk is a professor of Meat Safety and Quality in the Department of Animal Sciences. His research focuses on red meat quality and safety, live animal development, international marketing of red meats, and quality management systems. Belk has won several awards over the course of his career, including the North American Meat Association’s Harry L. Rudnick Educator’s Award and the American Meat Science Association’s Signal Service Award, both in 2013.

Belk earned his B.S. and M.S. from Colorado State University in 1983 and 1986, respectively. He received his Ph.D. in meat science from Texas A&M University in 1992. Belk is affiliated with several professional organizations, including the American Society of Animal Science, the Western Stock Show Association, and the Institute of Food Technologists.

“It is an honor to be recognized as contributing to the legacy of Kenny and Myra Monfort,” said Belk. “I am also honored to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Gary Smith, the first holder of the Monfort Chair who is one of the most recognizable names in the field of meat sciences.”

milt_thomas[1]John E. Rouse Animal Breeding University Chair – Milt Thomas

Dr. Milton G. Thomas joined Colorado State University in December 2011 as professor and John E. Rouse Animal Breeding Chair in the Department of Animal Sciences. He is also adjunct professor in the Animal Reproduction Biotechnology Laboratory in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Milt grew up in a family involved in diversified agriculture in Texas and Missouri and was very active in FFA leadership and public speaking activities. He completed undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral studies in animal science and molecular biology at the University of Missouri (B.S., ’88; M.S., ’90), Texas A&M University (Ph.D., ’94), and the University of Texas Institute of Biotechnology – Center for Molecular Medicine (1994-1996). Dr. Thomas progressed through the faculty ranks in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences at New Mexico State University from 1997 through 2011. In addition to undergraduate and graduate teaching, his responsibilities included coordinating the Angus, Brangus, Brahman cattle breeding program on the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center and the Corona Range and Livestock Research Center. Milt helped use these experiment station resources to grow the breeding program into the realm of animal genomics. This process was aided by sabbaticals at University of California, Davis and CSIRO-Australia and service to the Breed Improvement Committee of International Brangus Breeders Association.

Milt has published 306 professional articles as abstracts, experiment station reports, WSASAS proceedings, etc. Fifty-five of these documents are in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Thomas has served on the editorial boards of Journal of Animal Science, Domestic Animal Endocrinology, and Frontiers in Livestock Genomics, and accrued $1,529,907 in extramural funding. He also helped support the New Mexico State University cattle breeding programs by marketing $1,149,000 of breeding bulls. Through these teaching, research, and service endeavors, Dr. Thomas trained five Ph.D. students, nine M.S. students, and mentored more than 20 undergraduates interested in research.

Dr. Thomas received the Distinguished Research Award for the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at New Mexico State University in 2004 and then served as the Gerald Thomas Chair in Food Production and Natural Resources from 2010 to 2011. This one-year position internationalized collaborative study of genomics and heifer fertility. Milt is a 2011 graduate of the Lead21 program and served as director at-large and recording secretary of ASAS from 2008 to 2010. These leadership activities helped prepare Dr. Thomas for the challenge of leading team-based genomics research with the Colorado State University Beef Improvement Center (i.e., Rouse Ranch) in Wyoming.

jerry_black1[1]Wagonhound Land and Livestock College Chair in Equine Sciences – Dr. Jerry Black

A veterinarian educated through Colorado State University’s top-ranked veterinary science program, Jerry Black spent most of his decorated career – until now – in California. He founded the Pioneer Equine Hospital, a practice he sold three years ago, and also works with his wife as co-owner and operator of their stallion station Valley Oak Ranch. In his role, he oversees the continued success and growth of the top equine program in the nation. “We want to continue to develop other areas of excellence for the program, and the opportunities are there,” Black has said, while noting that he plans to continue to strengthen the Legends of Ranching program, a three-course performance training and sales program, in order to keep it one of the signature events for the Department of Animal Sciences and the Equine Sciences program.

His experience with his own operations and practice will come in handy, but so will his long list of involvement in national organizations. Black is currently serving on the executive board of the National Cutting Horse Association, was past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and serves on board of Trustees of the American Horse Council, among many other leadership roles and accolades.

Black is no stranger to CSU either. Even with his undergraduate degree and DVM from CSU, he’s played a significant role in CSU’s Equine Sciences Program over the years. Black was invited to participate in the curriculum review and strategic planning session in 2004, and was an advisor on the first ever Equine Sciences Advisory Committee. He then chaired that committee for five years.

“I love mentoring our young people to see new possibilities,” said Black. “I’ve done a lot of it for years now, and it’s important to me to help develop the next generation of leadership in the equine industry.”

Black’s advice to his incoming freshmen: “Become as familiar as you can with the program. Get emerged in it and involved in the activities and opportunities it offers.” To those students considering a degree in equine sciences, he says, “We invite you to come visit us and see how proud we are of our program, how proud we are of the graduates it produces, and we want encourage you to consider being a part of it.”