“After a nationwide search, Brent emerged as a proven and respected leader who will help us to strengthen partnerships, build trust, address challenges and define our 2040 strategic vision,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
Hales brings over 20 years of higher education research and leadership experience, including at land grant institutions and in Cooperative Extension. He currently serves as an associate dean of Pennsylvania State University's College of Agricultural Sciences and director of Penn State Extension.
“I am very excited to join the UC ANR family,” Hales said. “My grandfather was a 1939 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and both of my parents grew up in California.”
Before joining Penn State in 2019, he served as the senior associate dean and chief financial officer of the University of Minnesota Extension, associate dean for the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality, and the director of the Economic Development Authority Center at University of Minnesota, Crookston.
His research focuses on holistic community and economic development and entrepreneurship. He has spent his career working across the United States and the globe with underrepresented communities. Since 1998, Hales has worked with Native American Nations in asset development and capacity building.
“I am excited to collaborate with California's Native Nations, urban residents and underinvolved Californians as they seek to achieve their goals,” Hales said. “Some notable areas are tackling climate change, food security and workforce development.”
“What excites me most is to be part of the leadership team for the premier institution of Ag and Natural Resources research and extension in the United States,” Hales said. “The people, the facilities, the opportunities and the engagement with the communities and organizations of California is second to none.”
Hales earned a Ph.D. in rural sociology from Iowa State University, a master's degree in sociology from Middle Tennessee State University and a bachelor's degree in sociology from Brigham Young University in Utah.
He is the father of six children, is the grandfather of six grandchildren, and has been married to his best friend Candy for over 30 years.
Deanne Meyer, UC Cooperative Extension livestock specialist, has been serving UC ANR as interim associate vice president for research and Cooperative Extension over the past year and is assisting Hales with the transition.