MOUNT OLIVE — The University of Mount Olive (UMO) has announced that Dr. John Steven “Steve” Matthis will be the new Dean for the School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences (SABS).
University of Mount Olive President Dr. H. Edward Croom said, “Steve will bring elevated leadership to our already well developed program, and he will set the stage for tremendous growth opportunities within the School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.”
An eastern North Carolina native, Matthis has lived and worked in Sampson County his entire life expect for his first teaching job in Transylvania County. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture education from North Carolina State University with emphasis in both animal science and horticulture. He also obtained his doctorate in occupational education with an emphasis in animal science from NCSU.
“I am honored to be a part of an Agricultural and Biological Science Program that is so very well established,” Matthis said. “My past job experience involved building an Agricultural Program from the ground up. This was accomplished by utilizing local agriculture industry, local farmers, local businesses, individuals and developing a great faculty and staff. The UMO faculty and staff are already doing so many great things to promote and move UMO SABS forward. I see the next level as an exciting team working effort to move forward in planning. We will develop ways to bring in more students and train them uniquely to be competent and competitive in their own small business and/or the employer market place.”
The bulk of Matthis’ career has been centered on education and real-world application as it pertains to the agriculture industry. Matthis has worked with, taught, and developed curriculum for many different levels, including high school, college, and adult continuing education. He worked for 21 years as Dean of Occupational Programs at Sampson Community College where he oversaw academic, financial, and program development. He was responsible for planning and implementing courses and materials to meet the needs of the local livestock industry, taught in all areas of swine and poultry production, and mentored new instructors. His hands-on knowledge of the livestock industry comes hard earned from having owned and operated his own 300-sow farrow-to-finish swine operation and 100 cow-calf operation.
For the past nine years, Matthis has worked with Prestage Farms, Inc. as their Training Director. In this role, he has developed training materials, revised production manuals for all departments, taught farm production classes, and conducted production related research projects. He has also served as a self-employed agricultural consultant.
Matthis is a member of the North Carolina Pork Council, the North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association, and the National Pork Board. Since 2008, he has served as a member of the Four County Electric Membership Corporation Board of Directors where he has had many hours of leadership and fiduciary training. In addition, Matthis is an accomplished writer, researcher, and presenter.
When asked about his new role as Dean of the UMO SABS Matthis said, “I am excited to be a part of an established, well-known program. I have been out of academics for several years working with Ag Industry. This has given me an expanded knowledge of how industry works and what training is needed to become competent in today’s agricultural industry. Continuous improvement is a challenge to keep programs on the cutting edge of agriculture. I am excited to lead our faculty, staff, students, and farm community in this endeavor.”
Matthis and his wife, Paula, have been married for 45 years. They have a daughter, Marie, a son-in-law Dr. Cooper Smith, and three granddaughters. Steve and Paula attend Rose Hill Baptist Church, where Steve serves as a Deacon and Sunday School Teacher. In his spare time, he enjoys creating stained glass, woodworking, boating, and tinkering with his antique sawmill.
Matthis is filling the position vacated when Dr. Sandy Maddox, former Dean of the UMO School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, retired in May. He will begin his new role on October 1, 2023.