Heads of the Department of Agronomy

The Department of Agronomy is pleased to recognize the eleven persons who have led it for over 100 years. Their tireless efforts have taken the Department from rather humble beginnings of one professor and two assistants in 1906 to numerous faculty members, students, and staff. Facilities for the Department have improved from a few cramped offices in a small building to a large modern office - laboratory - classroom - greenhouse complex, two nearby research farms, and four experiment fields. Under their leadership, the Department has educated thousands of students; extended modern technology to producers; discovered new knowledge of crops, soils, range, and weeds; and served agriculture in Kansas, the US, and the world.

Teaching is an important part of the mission overseen by the Head. Alumni of the Department have distinguished themselves in the public and private sectors as crop, soil, and range professionals. They are farmers, agents, educators, administrators, consultants, representatives, scientists, missionaries, military, contractors, and a host of other professions. Many have become leaders in their communities, academia, industry, and government. Others have contributed greatly to world agriculture. They made hybrid corn a practical crop, introduced the wheat seeds for the Green Revolution, developed sorghum into an important crop, made a "Miracle Rice" for Asia, and led national programs in wheat, barley, oat, and alfalfa.

Extension programs ranging from the popular Farmer Institutes of the early 1900s to the present system of State Specialists - Area Agronomists - County Agricultural Agents have kept producers familiar with the latest technology in Agronomy. Information on conservation of soil and moisture, tillage and production systems, evaluation of varieties and hybrids of crops, and protection of the environment and assistance with special problems has kept the state's agriculture efficient and competitive.

Research directed in the Department by the Heads has continually developed new knowledge, new technology, and new varieties of crops for Kansas agriculture. Investigations of fertilizer needs and techniques for applying fertilizers have enhanced productivity of the state's soils. Surveys have mapped the soils in all 105 counties in the state. New methods of tillage have helped to conserve soil and moisture. Range research has kept the state's grasslands productive. Research has led to efficient methods of weed control. Early investigations introduced new varieties of wheat, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, and grasses. Today, most of the state's acreage of wheat and much of its acreage of canola is planted with varieties developed in the Department. Over the years, the Department has been the major source of information for production of wheat, corn, sorghum, soybean, alfalfa, and forage grasses.

The Heads of Agronomy continued to serve society after leading the Department. Many became Associate Deans and Deans at Kansas State University and other institutions. One became U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Some returned to teaching and research. Others led international agricultural development programs in Africa and Asia. Their accomplishments in these endeavors were as impressive as their achievements as Heads of the Department of Agronomy.