Beginning of Purdue and College of Agriculture

Purdue University was organized in 1869 and classes began in 1874. Departments in the College of Agriculture derived from “courses of study” listed in class catalogues. The word agronomy appeared in the 1905-1906 catalogue. In the 1907-1908 catalogue courses in soils and crops were grouped under a main heading of “agronomy,” which was the first indication of an independent agronomy curriculum.

History of Agronomy

1908: Agronomy was established as a department in the Agricultural Experiment Station. Alfred Wiancko became the first Head of the agronomy department in the Agricultural Experiment Station.
1910: The Agricultural Department was established in 1903. The departments of agronomy, agricultural engineering, and agricultural economics were established from the Agricultural Department with the term “agronomy department” was used in place of the Agricultural Department for the first time
1911: The soil fertility work of the chemical department was combined with crops work and the agronomy department in the Agricultural Experiment Station was changed to soils and crops department
1916:Professor Martin L. Fisher was named head of agronomy instruction in the School of Agriculture. He held that position until 1926, when he became Dean of Men. Wiancko became head of the agronomy department in the Agricultural Experiment Station and the School. He held both positions until his retirement in 1943.

1943:Dr. George D. Scarseth became head of agronomy, but resigned in 1944 to accept an appointment as Director of Research at the American Farm Research Association

1944:Norman J. Volk was appointed head. He also served as associate director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, and in 1948 being associate director of the Agricultural Experiment Station took his full attention.

1948:Dr. John B. Peterson, Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University at that time, was appointed the fifth head of agronomy and served in this position until 1971. During the 23 years of Dr. Peterson’s leadership the department more than doubled in size of faculty and gained national recognition.

1971:Dr. Marvin W. Phillips, a Purdue Agronomy faculty member since 1961, was named head of the department. He remained department head until June 30, 1991.
1991: Dr. William W. McFee, a member of the department since 1965 was appointed head in 1991 and served until 2001
2001:Craig A. Beyrouty, Professor of Agronomy at the University of Arkansas, was named head in 2001 becoming the eighth head of the agronomy department serving until 2009. Dr. Beyrouty left Purdue to become Dean of Agriculture at Colorado State University.

2009:Dr. Herbert W. Ohm, Distinguished Professor of Agronomy, was appointed interim department head until September 30, 2010 and on October 1, 2010

2010:Dr. Joseph M. Anderson, USDA/ARS and Adjunct Professor of Agronomy was appointed department head. Dr. Anderson had been an adjunct faculty member since 1993. Dr. Anderson stepped down on June 30, 2017

2017-Present:Dr. Ronald F. Turco, Jr., Professor of Agronomy, was named the eleventh department head effective July 1, 2017. Dr. Turco most recently served as the assistant dean of agriculture and environmental research for the College of Agriculture and director of the Purdue Global Sustainability Institute.