Dr. Kenneth Ray Tefertiller is an agricultural economist, teacher, university administrator and international consultant who has worked during the past three decades to strengthen Florida’s dynamic and diverse agricultural and natural resource industries.
As vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources and chief executive officer of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), Dr. Tefertiller provided leadership to expand and enhance statewide teaching, research, and extension programs that benefitted not only the agricultural and natural resources industry, but all of Florida’s citizens. Under his leadership, UF/IFAS became a national model for its work with agriculture and natural resource industries, rural families, and youth. Approaches were developed that strengthened Florida’s agricultural competitiveness through expanded programs in production technology, marketing, biotechnology, low energy technology, and water quality. Dr. Tefertiller’s goal was to enhance Florida’s agriculture nationally and internationally, and he achieved it through strong research and far-reaching educational initiatives.
Dr. Tefertiller was born in Noble, Oklahoma, on May 2, 1930. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science in 1952 and a master’s degree in agricultural economics in 1957 from Oklahoma State University. In 1959 he earned a doctorate in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois.
His university career began after serving in the U.S. Army from 1952-1954, where he attained the rank of major. From 1955-1965, he held positions as instructor at Oklahoma State University, graduate fellow at the University of Illinois, and associate professor and chairman of the Production Economics Section in the Department of Agricultural Economics Sociology at Texas A&M University.
In 1965 he joined the University of Florida as professor and chairman of the Department of Food and Resource Economics and held the title of director of the Center for Community and Rural Development from 1972-1973. In 1973 he became UF vice president for agricultural affairs and in 1976 director of Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations and Florida Cooperative Extension Service, both positions lasting until 1988.