History of IPIA and International Activities


The 1980s saw the return to campus of Lowell Hardin, in 1982, following his retirement from the Ford Foundation. Lowell served for the next 25 years as Assistant Director of IPIA, providing service in the areas of teaching, advising, and mentoring. It was during this time that the young Nigerian Akinwumi Adesina came to Purdue for graduate studies. "Akin" would go on to serve as the Nigerian Agriculture Minister from 2010-2015 and, subsequently, as President of the African Development Bank. In 2015, Purdue recognized Adesina with an honorary doctorate and in 2017 he became Purdue's third World Food Prize winner. Adesina earned both his Master's (1985) and Ph.D. (1988) degrees in the Department of Agricultural Economics.

The 1990s began a tumultuous time in Eastern and Central Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991. Shortly thereafter, David J. Sammons (Professor Emeritus of Agronomy at the University of Florida) stepped into the Director and Associate Dean role, serving from 1993 to 2006. During his tenure, Dean Sammons served on the Boards of all of the CRSPs at various points and was instrumental in enhancing Purdue's reputation as a CRSP leader.  Within IPIA, an important initiative during those years was an effort to develop a global perspective within the Extension dimension of the Land Grant mission. As part of that effort, the College established a permanent position that remains jointly-supported by IPIA and the Office of Extension. This individual works with county Extension educators presenting workshops and seminars on how a global dimension might fit with county activities and priorities. This novel effort attracted widespread attention nationally and was discussed with Extension leadership in other parts of the United States as a model for globalizing Extension within the principal domestic mission of the program. It also widened the global perspective of the Land Grant mission beyond the standard efforts in teaching and research. Building on this initiative, in the 1990s, IPIA administered a Farmer-to-Farmer program in the former Soviet Republics that resulted in 36 Indiana agriculturists travelling to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Tajikistan to provide technical training to farmers. In Poland, Purdue worked with the Agricultural Universities of Krakow, Poznan, and Warsaw to develop programs that they could offer to their students, create exchanges between Purdue and Polish students, and form methods of agricultural extension. Institution strengthening also occurred at several agricultural universities in Lithuania on a smaller scale than in Poland. This also was a period of rapid growth in undergraduate study abroad in the College of Agriculture, with key involvement by Mike Stitsworth and Linda Vallade.

The College of Agriculture Study Abroad Program began in 1993 with a program in Ukraine. Grants from USIA and USDA initially funded exchanges, not only with Ukraine but also with Hungary, followed by Russia. USDA also funded an early exchange program with Japan.  This helped establish the culture of study abroad within the College and these initial programs were quickly followed with programs in France, Ireland and Sweden. In Honduras, Robert (Bob) O'Neil (former Professor of Entomology) began to lay a foundation for the College of Agriculture's relationship with Zamorano University, the Pan-American School of Agriculture. With the support of USDA, Prof. O'Neil organized a group from the College of Agriculture to work with Peace Corps volunteers at Zamorano, and subsequently organized a visit, which was led by then Dean of the College of Agriculture, Vic Lechtenberg (Special Assistant to the President at Purdue), and included -- among others -- Suzanne Nielsen (Professor of Food Science).  At that time, Zamorano was seeking to add a Food Science/Technology major as an option for students, and sent a group of Zamorano administrators to the Food Science Department at Purdue.  In 1997, Suzanne hosted Gladys Flores, a Zamorano faculty member, who was developing Food Analysis and Food Chemistry courses for their Food Science curriculum.  Then, in 1999, Suzanne and Gladys started a program in which a small group of Zamorano Food Science seniors came to complete internships in Suzanne’s research laboratory.  During the period of 1999-2006, seven Food Science interns came from Zamorano, and all returned to Purdue to complete graduate degrees.  Seeing the quality of the Zamorano students as interns and graduate students, Suzanne as Head of Food Science launched a program to bring more Zamorano interns as prospective graduate students.  During the period of 2007-2013, Purdue’s Food Science Department provided partial support yearly for five Zamorano students to complete a semester-long internship in the laboratories of junior faculty members.  Brian Farkas (former Professor of Food Science) took over as Department Head in 2013 and continued to support the program.  Building on this strong foundation, Robert (Bob) Nielsen (Professor of Agronomy) championed an initiative to bring Zamorano interns to other departments in the College.  Starting in 2018, gift funds allowed the College to expand the Zamorano internship program beyond Food Science. 

The 1990s was also a period in which IPIA for the first time began to initiate programs in China. Prof. John Tse (former Professor and founder of Purdue's Krannert School of Management), provided a gift that allowed Purdue to establish study abroad opportunities in China and greatly expand its presence there. During the 1994-95 academic year, Purdue faculty conducted research in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and Slovenia as part of an IPIA-led project focused on addressing the problem of corn rootworm, an insect pest that devastated corn crops across the U.S. and Europe. This project was jointly funded by FAO, the Maize Institute of Yugoslavia, the Cereal Institute of Plant Protection of Austria and the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection organization (Paris). Researchers involved in this work included Richard C. Edwards (Professor Emeritus of Entomology), Harry Gibson (former Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering), Richard Grant (Professor of Agronomy), John Graveel (Professor Emeritus of Agronomy), Mario Morales (former Professor of Horticulture), L. D. Norton (formerly of the National Soil Erosion Laboratory), Jeff Volenec (Professor of Agronomy), and Herbert Ohm (Distinguished Professor of Agronomy).

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