Rick Daluge announced that he will retire this fall after 24 years as short course director and 35 years overseeing alumni efforts for the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
Daluge is a familiar face at agricultural events throughout Wisconsin, especially to alumni of the College's four-year and short-course programs.
"One thing I've learned during my short time at the College is that nearly everybody in Wisconsin agriculture knows and respects Rick Daluge," says CALS dean Molly Jahn. "The strong, loyal support we get from out alumni, both of our four-year and short course programs - is due in large part to Rick's efforts."
Daluge has served under six CALS deans. He was hired by the College in 1972 to serve as secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumni Association, as well as to coordinate student recruitment and job placement. In 1983 he relinquished the placement and recruitment roles to take over the short course program.
During his tenure as director, the Farm and Industry Short Course has graduated about 2,400 students - roughly one-third of its living alumni. Most of his former students have remained in the state, and many have gone on to leadership positions in farm groups, agricultural businesses and government.
Daluge has been able to maintain enrollment in the short course program despite the fact that Wisconsin farm numbers are half what they were when he took over the program.
"I think we have done a good job of keeping the program relevant by updating our curriculum" he says. "For example, in addition to our production agriculture courses, we now a have green industry track with courses in horticulture and greenhouse management."
Since Daluge started with WALSAA, the group's membership has grown from 300 to more than 2,000. He helped the group establish endowments totaling $570,000 that fund more than $20,000 annually in scholarships. He also helped start the group's signature event, the Football Fireup, that draws about 1,000 alumni back to campus for a a pre-game picnic each fall.
"The nice thing about this job is that as I travel across the state I'm constantly running into former students." Daluge says. "They're all over, and the diversity of what they're doing and what they've accomplished is simply amazing."