From college student to senior associate dean, Bryan Garton has become an integral part of the University of Missouri’s history himself, while enthusiastically sharing campus traditions with others.
“I just think it’s fun to be able to go over on the quad and to make sure that people know the history of how this University got started,” Garton said.
Through his own history and current job, he has truly shown his pride and love for the university culture time and time again.
Garton’s connection with MU began when he started as an undergraduate working to earn his bachelor of science in agriculture, which he completed in 1985. He was hired to teach agriculture education in Higginsville, Missouri, following his graduation from the University. Garton had no plans for his education to stop, however. He continued working through his master’s degree while teaching high school agriculture.
After earning a doctorate from Ohio State University, Garton returned home to the University of Missouri. He accepted the position of assistant professor in the agricultural education department.
“I always thought it would be fun to work back at my alma mater at Missouri — never expected or anticipated that it would be as soon as it was, but there was a job here, I applied and interviewed and was hired,” Garton said.
After being promoted to full professor, Garton’s work focused on teaching and research.
“I enjoyed working with him to sort out my freshman class schedule,” said Tayler Cope, MU student. “It was hard knowing what to take and how to plan, but Dr. Garton helped me get on the right path for success here on campus.”
In 2007, Garton became the assistant dean for academic programs for the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Even while picking up these administrative duties, Garton continued teaching and advising graduate students. In 2008, he became the interim associate dean, then was named associate dean for academic programs, which has been his job for the past 10 years.
“I always thought I might want to do this someday,” Garton said. “Ag education prepares you well for this job because you work with students, you work with the curriculum, all the things of which you teach in ag education.”
Moving up in the ranks is a familiar subject for Garton as he explores his most recent promotion to senior associate dean of academic programs. He maintains many of the same operational tasks from his previous job, but it has allowed him to delegate some things and assist Vice Chancellor and CAFNR Dean Christopher Daubert more than he was able to previously.
“He has a wealth of knowledge from not only having been a student here but also as faculty and then moving into an administrative role … that historic knowledge and the context of how many things have happened here within CAFNR is very valuable because he has that history perspective of things,” said colleague Jon Simonsen, professor of agricultural education.
Garton loves to share the University’s history with visitors. He still gets out of the office and makes time to talk about the stories around campus. Stories including the poem that led to Memorial Union being built, Beetle Bailey, why we became the tigers, and why we have Thomas Jefferson’s original tombstone.
“He enjoys doing the historical tour of campus like some classes get to see,” Simonsen said. “It is a big part of who he is.”
Reminding folks why history and tradition is important is something Garton obviously treasures. With his personal and family history surrounding MU, it is no surprise he enjoys enlightening people on the past.
“It’s one thing to tell people we have this tradition, but you remember better if you know the backstory to why it’s a tradition,” Garton said.
If you catch Garton in passing, ask him to tell you about one of the traditions of Mizzou, you’ll come out wiser and feeling more like an MU tiger than ever.