Doyle Karr named 2024 convocation speaker for ACES

Portrait of a smiling Doyle Karr with glasses, wearing a blue shirt and dark blazer, against a black background.
Doyle Karr

Global food and agriculture strategist Doyle Karr will serve as the May 2024 Convocation Ceremony speaker for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The graduation ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. on May 12 at the State Farm Center

“We are thrilled to welcome Doyle Karr back to campus to share his insights from decades working across the food system to build trust and transparency,” said College of ACES Dean Germán Bollero. “His remarks will undoubtedly inspire our graduates to pursue their careers with sincerity, strategy, and integrity.

Throughout his career, Karr has been at the forefront of creating innovative programs to advance understanding between farmers and consumers.

Growing up on a small livestock and row-crop farm in central Illinois, Karr was the only one of his parents’ 19 children (the 16th) who aspired to a career in agriculture.

An honorable mention in a National FFA Organization essay contest during his freshman year in high school prompted a visit from the legendary agricultural communications professor Jim Evans, now a professor emeritus and namesake of the James F. Evans Global Center for Food and Agricultural Communications. Evans introduced Karr to agricultural communications on the farmhouse front steps, leading Karr to a career that has given him a front-row seat to the most pressing issues facing food and agriculture around the globe over the last four decades.

During his time at Illinois, Karr was chapter president of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and editor of the Illini AgriNews college newspaper. He also served as state Secretary-Treasurer for the Illinois Association FFA in 1982-1983.

He began his career as a field editor for Wallaces Farmer magazine in Iowa and Prairie Farmer in Illinois before joining Pioneer Hi-Bred in 1989. Karr held several communications roles for Pioneer before becoming director of global communications in 2004 — a job he held for 10 years while also serving as the public affairs lead across DuPont’s agriculture and nutrition businesses. He was director of biotech public policy for DuPont until its merger with Dow. He then served as director of consumer insights and food systems engagement at Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture spinout from the merger.

When global controversies over GMOs were at their peak, Karr led company and industry efforts to engage the public and met with the harshest critics of modern agriculture to better understand their points of view. 

Karr also led the creation of an award-winning global index that ranked more than 100 countries on food security. He has led ground-breaking initiatives such as CRISPRcon, a series of conferences that brought together diverse voices to discuss the risks, benefits, ethics, and equity of gene editing in research, health, and food.

When Corteva Agriscience was created, Karr led its aspiration for industry-leading trustworthiness through radical transparency. At the heart of the effort was changing a typical company mindset of, “Never share information unless we have a compelling reason to do so,” to “We are going share unless we have a compelling reason not to.”

Karr left the corporate world in 2022 to start a consulting business, helping clients in food, agriculture, and healthcare navigate external factors that could help or hinder their success.  

Karr is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Keystone Policy Center and volunteers with numerous initiatives, including fundraising campaigns for the College of ACES. He received the College of Aces Award of Merit in 2019. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, he and his wife, Tamara Rood, have two grown children, William and Anna Karr.

Tickets are not required for the College of ACES convocation ceremony on May 12. Graduates must be registered to participate and should arrive between 4:45 and 5:00 p.m. to line up; the ceremony will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m. For questions regarding the convocation ceremony, email All members of the College of ACES community — including faculty, staff, alumni, and community members — are invited to a “Senior Send-Off” event hosted by the College of ACES Alumni Association from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on the east lawn of the State Farm Center; kindly RSVP online if you plan to attend.