There is no road map to the most important chair in the most important office in the Purdue University College of Agriculture. Many paths have led people to the Dean of Agriculture's slot in the past. The vast majority of deans over the past several decades, however, have followed a route that led somewhere inside the university to get to that position. That formula held true again, as Purdue stayed at home by picking Jay Akridge, a longtime Purdue professor with a long line of credentials and accomplishments, to be the next Dean of Agriculture.
Technically, he succeeds himself, as he served as interim Dean of the College of Agriculture since May 1. He took over the post after Randy Woodson became Provost of the University, the second-highest academic position on the entire campus, right behind the President herself.
During the past eight months before he was officially selected Dena, from a finalists field of three candidates, all well-qualified, he demonstrated that he could steer the college forward, while remaining calm, even in the face of adversity. And he has inspired others with his leadership skills.
"We're really excited to have Jay named permanently to this post," says Chuck Hibberd, Purdue Director of Extension. Hibberd himself has served in his role for just over 12 months. "We're really pleased and excited to have him there. Besides everything else, he's just a nice guy."
Akridge was instrumental in continuing the partnership with Indiana Prairie Farmer to continue the Master Farmer program last year without a hitch. The long-time program is now co-sponsored by the magazine and Purdue's College of Agriculture. Randy Woodson agreed that Purdue would help co-sponsor the program to preserve it as one of the most prestigious awards an Indiana farmer can receive while Woodson served as Dean of Agriculture.
The awards program for Master Farmers was held at the Beck Ag center near West Lafayette last July. It's scheduled to be held there again this year at the end of July. The very first master farmer awards program was held on the Purdue campus in 1925. So in some ways the program has now come full circle.
Nominations are now available for this year's program. Candidates must be nominated by someone else, either a family member, friend or business associate. To obtain a nomination form, email email@example.com or call 317-738-0565. Nominations must be postmarked by April 15, 2009.