A new era in Purdue University Extension is about to begin. Dave Petritz, Extension director for most of the past decade, stepped down officially July 1 to pursue other interests. He left big shoes to fill. The Extension director is responsible for all Purdue Extension programs all across Indiana.
A Purdue University Extension Director search committee interviewed four candidates on campus during the past few months. Last week Purdue Dean of Agriculture Randy Woodson announced that Charles Hibberd has been named to be the next Extension director.
Likable and obviously competent, he drew high marks for professionalism from several committee members, inside sources say. Don McCabe, editor of Nebraska Farmer, Indiana Prairie Farmer's sister publication, has worked with Hibberd in the past. Hibberd will come to Purdue from Nebraska, where he was district director of the Panhandle Research and Extension Center and Panhandle Extension District. McCabe was impressed by his attention to detail, and by his willingness to work with him, a member of the media, to get positive stories out about agriculture.
Petritz completed his undergraduate, masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Illinois, in his home state. Then he moved to Purdue 35 years ago and never left. He began as an ag economist dealing with cattle numbers and hay economics, then later moved into the Extension administration hierarchy before becoming Extension director. He and his family still live in West Lafayette.
During his tenure for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Hibberd has been responsible for research and Extension activities at four research locations, and 12 county offices. Before arriving in Nebraska in 1994, he was professor of animal sciences at Oklahoma State University for 12 years. He grew up in Lexington, Neb. Hibberd told the committee that he was attracted to the Purdue University Extension director position because of Purdue's reputation for excellence.
Tom Jordan, assistant director in charge of agricultural programs, is also expected to leave his post later this year. However, Jordan won't be retiring or leaving Purdue. On the Purdue Botany and Plant Pathology staff before moving into ag administration, he's expected to return to the department as an Extension weed specialist, also doing weed control-related research, around the end of this year.
No replacement or procedure for replacing Jordan in Ag Administration has been announced.