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Dr. Robert J. Jones to Deliver 2022 William H. Hatch Memorial Lecture

Nifa Author
Lori Tyler Gula, Senior Public Affairs Specialist

Acting National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Director Dr. Dionne Toombs has announced that Dr. Robert J. Jones, chancellor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has been selected to deliver the 2022 William H. Hatch Memorial Lecture on November 6 in Denver at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

The lecture is one of three rotating lectures presented by NIFA and APLU that honor three historic Land-grant University (LGU) figures: Justin Smith Morrill, William Henry Hatch and Seaman A. Knapp. Nominations for this prestigious award are submitted by the LGU system, stakeholders, foundations, public interest groups and international organizations.

The lecture commemorates the foresight of William Henry Hatch in leading the movement to establish national support for agricultural science at LGUs. William Henry Hatch (Sept. 11, 1833 - Dec. 23, 1896) was a U.S. Representative from Missouri. He was the namesake of the Hatch Act of 1887, which established state agricultural experiment stations for the Land-grant Colleges. Not only was this the first significant program of federal support for science, it established the role of American public universities as centers of discovery.

The 10th chancellor of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Jones holds a Ph.D. in crop physiology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and is an internationally respected scholar in his research field of plant physiology. Across his four-decade career in higher education, he has served as faculty member, senior university administrator, and has led two different public research universities.

Dr. Jones began his academic career at the University of Minnesota. His leadership at Illinois’ flagship public research university has seen the launch of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, the nation’s first engineering-based medical school, receipt of the two largest gifts in the university’s history, the launch and completion of a historic philanthropic campaign that raised $2.67 billion and the invention of a novel, affordable, accurate and rapid COVID-19 testing ecosystem that allowed the university to safely resume in-person instruction during a global pandemic.

His tenure has also been distinguished by significant initiatives to increase access and affordability for all students and to foster a more diverse and inclusive university. Dr. Jones created the first vice chancellor-level diversity office and senior leadership position at Illinois. And he established the Illinois Commitment Scholarship program that offers four years of free tuition to more than 2,000 Illinois families each year.

Dr. Jones is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.

This is the 43rd lecture in the series that began in 1980.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and Extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA’s investments directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural sciences visit

Top image: Dr. Robert J. Jones, chancellor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has been selected to deliver the 2022 William H. Hatch Memorial Lecture on November 6.

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