Retired MSU Vice President Rodney Foil dies at age 83

R. Rodney Foil

R. Rodney Foil, longtime vice president for Mississippi State University’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, died February 4, 2018, at the age of 83.

A funeral is scheduled for 3 p.m. Feb. 9 at First United Methodist Church in Starkville with a visitation preceding at 1 p.m. Pastor Giles Lindley will officiate the ceremony. In lieu of flowers, donations will be accepted by First United Methodist Church Organ Fund at 200 Lampkin Street, Starkville, MS 39759; the Rosalind and Rodney Foil Teamwork Award at Box 9800, Mississippi State, MS 39762; or another charity of the donor’s choice.

Foil is survived by his wife of 34 years, Rosalind, his children, Jerry and Allison, his grandchildren Cheryl, Valerie, Abigail, Phoebe, and Martha, and his son- and daughter-in-law, Jim and Elvia.

Foil retired from MSU in 1999 after 30 years as an administrator. The Bogalusa, Louisiana, native was a faculty member for 11 years at Louisiana State University before coming to MSU. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from LSU and was a doctoral graduate of Duke University.

At MSU, Foil also served as head of the Department of Forestry and dean of the then School of Forest Resources, as well as associate director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. Foil was named director of MAFES in 1978, and Experiment Station research prospered during his years of leadership. He was named a vice president in 1986.

Foil garnered a long list of academic and professional honors. He was recognized for contributions by the Society of American Foresters, Mississippi Seedsmen Association, MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and LSU’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Management, among others. After his retirement, Foil went on to serve the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He oversaw the CSREES Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems, and he served as chair of the CSREES Board of Agriculture. In 2004, he was among the first individuals to be inducted into the CSREES Hall of Fame.

The R. R. Foil Plant Science Research Center, known by many as North Farm, is part of Foil’s legacy and is comprised of approximately 750 acres, including 550 acres of tillable land for a variety of research projects in a diverse agricultural community.

The Rosalind and Rodney Foil Teamwork Award is given for exemplary collaboration efforts in the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine.