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Monsanto and South Dakota State University

When David Chicoine explains his new, part-time job - one of 11 members of the board of directors at seed giant Monsanto Co. - it all sounds very smart, very modern, very    good.

"Big companies like Monsanto," related Chicoine in a telephone interview Tuesday, "have contacts anywhere they find talent. Their only interest is high-quality work."

Chicoine's anywhere and talent, however, are very uncommon; He's president of South Dakota State University, the state's Land Grant university and its premier research and teaching institution. That makes him one of an elite group whose entire membership is fewer than that of the U.S. Senate.

It also makes him, by anyone's recollection, the first Land Grant president to sit on the board an agriculture-based, transnational corporation that contributes millions to fund ag research and infrastructure at Land Grant universities around the United States.

The directorship, which became effective April 15 and is subject to shareholder approval in 2010, carries a fat paycheck for the slim work. As Monsanto's Form 8-K, filed April 20 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, wordily notes, Chicoine will pocket "an annual base retainer having a value of $195,000."

Sweet, but there's more.

"The Plan" - the non-employee pay package from Monsanto - "also provides that each non-employee director will receive a grant of restricted stock upon commencement of service    equal to the annual base retainer divided by the closing price of a share of the Company's common stock on the commencement date."

If my gobbleygook knife is as sharp as my math skills, that means each director knocks down an additional $195K in stock for taking on the rugged task of serving as a Monsanto director.

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