November 2015

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From the Dean

Jay AkridgeOne of the six broad themes in our new strategic plan is focused internally: who we are and how we work.  The goal in this area is building a diverse, inclusive and respectful community of faculty, staff and students who pursue excellence in all they do. This theme is an ambitious and essential part of our plan. 

The fundamental importance of this area has certainly been amplified over the past weeks with the incidents at the University of Missouri. These events resonated with our Purdue students who organized peaceful demonstrations on campus. ‘Building a diverse and inclusive community’ is something that is easy to say but very challenging to do. It takes intentional effort and commitment by everyone involved in an organization to affect cultural change and ultimately, it must be something we demonstrate by our day-to-day actions.

Some of this intentional effort is administrative: our strategic plan includes actions such as removing structural barriers in our recruiting; ensuring that search processes are inclusive; removing as many biases as possible in decision-making processes; providing new faculty members with appropriate onboarding support; and more. (As a reminder--when you participate in training activities that address diversity and inclusion, make sure you log them here: so we can measure our effort as a College. Last year, College of Agriculture faculty, staff and students reported attending more than 525 diversity educational activities.) The strategic plan also focuses on students: providing each and every student with opportunities regardless of their background, race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation; raising the cultural awareness of our students; building relationships with the 1890/historically black colleges and universities to recruit graduate students; and more.  

Our plan also communicates that a ‘diverse and inclusive environment focused on excellence in all we do’ is critical to the success of our College and each individual in our College. Activities such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week, sponsored by our Diversity Action Team in Agriculture (DATA) group, not only put a spotlight on diversity and inclusion and help us celebrate those ideals, but also help us all become better informed about key actions that we can take as individuals to build a better climate in the College. The DATA group will also be launching awards to recognize individuals (faculty, staff and students) who have gone above and beyond the norm to promote a positive climate in the College. In addition, with the help of DATA, we will be starting regular spotlight features to showcase the actions of individuals who have made important contributions toward a positive climate.  These profiles will be helpful to all of us in identifying specific, effective actions that we might emulate. 

Guided by our strategic plan, the College will be pursuing these actions over the coming months. But in the end, it is how we treat one another that will determine whether we actually have the climate that we want. Freedom of speech is a core value of our campus, but with this freedom comes great personal responsibility. We should all strive to be respectful in all of our interactions with other faculty, staff and students in the College and beyond. We are all also responsible for calling out individuals or actions that fail to live up to this standard.

Please note this in no way means we all think the same way or will ever agree on everything. At the same time, we can and must have those essential discussions, debates, and dialogues in a professional and respectful way. We can all work to better to educate ourselves on our own unintentional biases and the values that we bring to interactions with others who may have perspectives, backgrounds, cultures, beliefs and values that are different from our own. Our workforce and the demographics of our society are changing.  We will survive and thrive as a College if we build a place where all faculty, staff, and students want to be. And, frankly, we are not yet there.

At a time when these issues are front and center on our national agenda, my personal goal for our College is that we are known for working hard as individuals and as a College to truly build a place where people feel valued and respected, where diverse opinions and thoughts are argued professionally and with vigor, and that all can fulfill their most ambitious aspirations. I thank each and every one of you for making a personal commitment to help us build the College that we want to be.

All the best,



Purdue Agriculture People


Ag Research Spotlight: Janna Beckerman

Janna BeckermanThe Ag Research Spotlight shines each month on an individual whose work reflects our commitment to the six strategic themes that guide Agricultural Research at Purdue. Our spotlight for November is on Janna Beckerman, Botany and Plant Pathology, whose work underscores the theme, “Facilitating informed decision making to improve economic and social well-being.”

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College participates in Bravo Awards Program

Bravo AwardPurdue Agriculture will participate in the Bravo Award program again this year. The Bravo Award is intended to highlight the excellence found across all areas and job functions at Purdue by recognizing and rewarding extraordinary achievements on every scale. The Bravo Award is a one-time cash award to employees at all levels in recognition of substantial accomplishments that extend well beyond regular work responsibilities. Acknowledging employee accomplishments that help Purdue make a difference with our students and in our state and help us move the world forward is vital to the University's mission and the morale of our faculty and staff. Click here for more information and FAQs about the Bravo Award. You can find the Bravo Award nomination form here. Please use this form—not any older versions. If you have questions, please contact your business manager.


Call for Nominations: College of Agriculture PK-12 Council Outreach & Engagement Awards

The purpose of the newly created Outreach and Engagement Awards is to recognize faculty and staff involved in successful outreach and engagement activities and to encourage the improvement and expansion of those activities.  Three awards will be presented with one in each of the following categories: staff, faculty emerging impact, and faculty sustaining impact.  Awards will be $5,000 each, and funds may be used for equipment, supplies, services, travel, and undergraduate or graduate student effort. Any College of Agriculture faculty or staff member whose outreach and engagement efforts with K-12 audiences address the College’s goal to expand the pool of students interested in and prepared for careers in food, agricultural, life, and natural resource sciences is eligible to receive this award.  Outreach and engagement efforts can be school-based, classroom projects, or may also be defined as Informal Science Education. Nominations may be submitted by any Purdue Agriculture faculty or staff member. Teams are eligible to apply. Nominations are due February 10, 2016.  To access nomination forms and additional information about the awards, visit


TEAM Award call for nominations

Since 1995, Purdue Agriculture has recognized an outstanding collaborative effort within our programs and across the university. Nominations are invited for the 2016 Purdue Agriculture TEAM Award. The 2016 TEAM Award will be presented at a ceremony in May, and the winning team will be awarded $10,000 for program support. Nominations must be sent electronically to Cindy Ream at by December 4.

TEAM Award guidelines and required nomination cover sheet:

AP Staff advancement work begins

The 2015-2016 Administrative/Professional Staff Advancement Program is underway. All A/P staff should have received the materials via email. Advancement documents are to be processed and approved through the individual department committees this fall before they are submitted to the Dean’s Committee for evaluation (due January 6). It is recommended that staff update their advancement documents each year to make it much easier when they are eligible to submit a document for advancement.  For details, visit the College of Agriculture’s A/P Staff Advancement Program web site under the “Faculty & Staff” tab on the Purdue Agriculture home page:


A reminder about tracking civil rights and diversity training

Civil Rights logoThe College of Agriculture is committed to making ongoing improvements to policies and practices to assure that race, ethnicity and gender are not barriers to success. During our USDA Federal Civil Rights Compliance Audit in 2012, it was brought to our attention that we did not have a formal tracking system in place to verify that all faculty, staff and graduate students received appropriate training. In order to comply with this, individuals are required to receive training in civil rights (the regulations), diversity awareness or sexual harassment each year. Therefore, we created a system utilizing the Qualtrics survey tool to have individuals self-report completion of their training. Rather than mandate a specific training, we are asking you to comply by recording training you have been to already or attend any training that fits your needs and interests and enhances your knowledge/understanding of diversity, civil rights or sexual harassment. Please note that all of the activities detailed above for Diversity Awareness Week are great opportunities to meet your yearly training requirement for Purdue Agriculture. 

Report training at:

Training modules available for faculty and staff

Risk Management, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance and the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources, announces the availability of the Risk Management Employment Claims Initiative education program. The program helps employees and supervisors understand employment-related issues such as discrimination, harassment, disability awareness and accommodations, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), overtime rates, and other university leave policies. Participants will complete four training modules and corresponding certification quizzes: 1) Equal Opportunity; 2) Americans with Disabilities Act; 3) Wage and Hour Issues for Employees and Supervisors; and 4) Family and Medical Leave Act and University Leave Policies.

The training modules and instructions for accessing the certification quizzes are located on the Purdue Employee Portal. Each training module is approximately 20 to 25 minutes long. Training on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Equal Opportunity will also fulfill College of Agriculture requirements for civil rights training as required by the USDA. All faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to complete these training modules. Faculty and staff participation in these training modules impacts the College's share of insurance costs.

Awards and Recognitions


Freddie BarnardFreddie Barnard, Agricultural Economics, received the 2015 Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence in Education and Service to the Rural People of Indiana. The award was presented on November 16 at the annual convention of the Indiana Farm Bureau, sponsor of the award, in Indianapolis. Dr. Barnard is a longtime leader in Purdue Extension agribusiness management and agricultural finance programs, He has led hundreds of Extension workshops and courses, helping tens of thousands of farmers and agricultural lenders deal with changing and challenging times. He was also cited for his work in the classroom, where he has taught thousands of students management principles using simulations to mimic experiences in their professions, a technique that has been adapted across the country and in Africa.

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D. SaraswatDharmendra Saraswat, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, was honored by Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) and Public Policy Center of University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture for his contributions to the state's nonpoint source (NPS) pollution management program at the 2015 ANRC NPS stakeholder meeting on September 23.



Joan Fulton and Catherine HillJoan Fulton, Agricultural Economics, and Catherine Hill, Entomology, are among five faculty members chosen by the Office of the Provost to participate in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation Academic Leadership Program during the 2015-16 academic year. The CIC is a consortium of the Big Ten member universities plus the University of Chicago. The CIC-ALP is designed to develop the leadership and managerial skills of faculty who have demonstrated exceptional ability and administrative promise. It is specifically oriented to the challenges of academic administration of major research universities and to the preparation of faculty members to meet those challenges. 


Shaneka LawsonShaneka Lawson, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources and a Research Plant Physiologist with the USDA Forest Service, received a Silver President’s Volunteer Service Award from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak and Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Gregory Parham on Nov. 5 at the USDA’s Abraham Lincoln Honor Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. She was recognized for her tireless pursuit of diversity and inclusion initiatives, the writing and implementation of several Civil Rights grants that provided elementary school children with a summer forestry program, providing basic necessities for disabled veterans and mentally ill homeless persons staying in a shelter, and designing a program that taught middle and high school students about sustainability and environmental responsibility.


Larry MurdockLarry Murdock, Entomology, received the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development's (BIFAD) Award for Scientific Excellence at the BIFAD meeting held at Purdue in October. Dr. Murdock was honored for his creation of the PICS bagging technology that helps farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa protect their stored crops from grain-destroying weevils.

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Tony VynTony Vyn, Agronomy, received the 2015 Carl Sprengel Agronomic Research Award, which recognizes major research accomplishments based on basic or applied research in agronomy. Recipients are selected based on discoveries, techniques, inventions or materials they developed that have increased crop yields or improved crop quality, food products, land and water development, environmental quality or conservation. Dr. Vyn’s research and Extension programs deliver applied crop and soil management solutions for cropping systems in the eastern Corn Belt.


NIFATwo Purdue projects improving usability of climate information for Midwest agriculture and taking regional approaches to economic development in rural Indiana have earned National Institute of Food and Agriculture Partnership Awards. The awards for the Useful to Usable and Stronger Economies Together teams were presented during a NIFA Day of Appreciation event October 22 in Washington, D.C. "These two projects are stellar examples of how our faculty and staff build diverse teams to tackle pressing problems and strengthen lives and communities in Indiana and across the country," said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture. "Whether it's helping rural counties band together and use shared assets to grow their economies or providing farmers with practical, easy-to-use decision support tools, these partnerships illustrate our commitment, in partnership with USDA and NIFA, to truly make a difference for the people we serve."

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Several Purdue Agriculture faculty members were recognized by the Purdue Research Foundation  at its 11th annual Inventors Recognition Reception Nov. 3 in the Herman and Heddy Kurz Purdue Technology Center at Purdue Research Park: Arun Bhunia, Food Science; Kevin Keener, Food Science; Michael Ladisch, Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Nathan Mosier, Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Philip Nelson, Food Science; Marshall Porterfield, Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Bernard Tao, Agricultural and Biological Engineering;and Yuan Yao, Food Science

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jeffrey petersJeffrey Peters, a PhD candidate in Agricultural Economics, will receive a James S. McDonnell Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in Studying Complex Systems. The fellowship provides $200,000 over 2-3 years to study complex systems science at the university or research center best suited for his needs. The Studying Complex Systems program supports scholarship and research directed toward the development of theoretical and mathematical tools contributing to the science of complex, adaptive, nonlinear systems. Peters’ proposal was titled “Interdependencies in infrastructure and economic systems.”



soil judging teamThe Purdue Soil Judging Team took first place at the Collegiate Region 3 soil judging contest held in Bartholomew County in October. The Purdue team will compete in the national contest next spring. Purdue students placing in the top 10 included Arthur Franke, first, Betta McGaughey, second, Sarah Letsinger, sixth, Chelsea Emenhiser, eighth, Shelby Sigman, ninth and Morgan Winder, tenth. Other team members include Jacob Burke, Alyssa Kuhn, Alexis Pearson, Emily Smith, Dakota Westphal, Tiffani Goodman, Amanda Locker, Andrew Smith and Maddie Smith. The team is coached by Dr. Gary Steinhardt.


Purdue Agriculture in the News


Ceremony sets stage for construction of 2 animal sciences buildings

groundbreakingA new era of research, education and Extension in animal sciences is on the near-horizon at Purdue University, where a ceremony symbolized the start of construction of two buildings that will equip faculty, staff and students with the latest technology to help them meet increasing need for innovation. The Hobart and Russell Creighton Hall of Animal Sciences and the Land O'Lakes Center for Experiential Learning will be built at the corner of South Russell and Harrison streets on the West Lafayette campus. The buildings, scheduled to open in 2017, are being named in recognition of gifts of $5 million each from Creighton Brothers LLC of Warsaw, Indiana, and Land O’Lakes Inc. of Arden Hills, Minnesota. The $60 million project also is receiving $35 million in state funding and additional financial support of other donors. Purdue President Mitch Daniels and Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture, were among representatives of the university and the two companies who turned earth with shovels at the site Nov. 6. 

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Study: Flood models need to include cities' impact on rainfall

floodingCurrent flood models do not account for cities' impact on local rainfall patterns, an oversight that could lead to significantly underestimating the severity and frequency of floods in urban areas, a Purdue study finds. Dev Niyogi, Indiana's state climatologist, and collaborators at China's Tsinghua University showed that hard, impenetrable city surfaces such as concrete can dramatically influence the way rainfall spreads across a watershed. Flood models that do not incorporate the ways cities modify rainfall patterns could underestimate the magnitude of future floods by as much as 50 percent, said Niyogi, who is also a professor of agronomy and earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences. "Over the last two decades, we've seen an increase in major flooding in urban areas," he said. "Many factors are contributing to that change, including extreme weather, climate change and climate variability. But evidence is also emerging that cities themselves are significantly and detectably changing the rainfall patterns around them."

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Purdue startup commercializes soil-mapping technology to improve crops, increase yields

Phillip OwensAn agricultural startup is commercializing a Purdue University innovation that could help farmers improve crop management and yields by better understanding how their soil functions. Agsoil Analytics Inc. was co-founded by Phillip R. Owens, Agronomy, and Jenette Ashtekar, a postdoctoral research assistant also in Agronomy. The company has developed a soil-mapping technology that is able to share highly detailed soil information so farmers and producers can develop decisions based on inputs to develop more consistent yields and allow for a more uniform quality product. The Agsoil Analytics functional map technology is able to predict properties like organic carbon content, clay content, the location of water tables, the native nutrient potential, cation exchange capacity and more. It is also able to show categorized information like the highest- and lowest-yielding areas, how much water the soil would store after a rainfall event, and how fast a farmer could expect runoff.

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Purdue Agriculture developing study-abroad program with Cuba

Cuba flagFaculty members in the College of Agriculture traveled to Cuba recently as a preliminary planning excursion for a study-abroad program there. Steven Hallett, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture; Steve Yaninek, Entomology; and Gerald Shively,  Agricultural Economics, participated in the Oct. 24-31 scouting trip to gain familiarity with potential partners by visiting local agricultural institutions. "The opening of diplomatic ties with Cuba unlocks many potential research, education and outreach opportunities," Shively said. "On this trip, we want to begin to lay the foundation for future Purdue activities, keeping in mind that building collaborations and mutual understanding and identifying appropriate activities may take time."   

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U2U corn nitrogen management tool updated, expanded

U2U logoThe Purdue University-based Useful to Usable climate initiative is taking some of the guesswork out of crop nitrogen management for more farmers by expanding its Corn Split N tool to include all Corn Belt states. The free tool helps farmers and advisers manage the application of in-field nitrogen to maximize crop yields and minimize environmental damage. Efficient nitrogen management is critical for earning a profit in present economic conditions. Corn Split N integrates historical data on weather and fieldwork conditions with economic considerations to determine the feasibility and profitability of completing a post-planting nitrogen application for corn production.

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Purdue alumnus launches startup for genetically improved hardwoods sales, consulting

Aaron ForgeryLandowners who are interested in planting trees that could produce veneer wood could benefit from a startup launched by an alumnus of the College of Agriculture. Aaron Forgey, who earned his degree in forestry and natural resources in 2014, is the owner of Legacy Hardwoods LLC. The company is selling trees, including black walnut and black cherry, that have been scientifically proven to have a better chance to become veneer wood than saw logs. "Veneer trees can be difficult to find in the wild, with perhaps one tree every 10 acres, which makes them so valuable," he said. Along with producing and selling trees, Forgey consults landowners to ensure they take the proper steps to maximize their investment.

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Extension developing marketing group for pastured poultry farmers

pastured poultryPurdue Extension is starting a new marketing initiative to promote Indiana's pasture-raised poultry. The goal is to establish a set of common production, processing and branding standards to ensure consistent levels of quality, said Roy Ballard, Extension educator in Hancock County and one of the project coordinators. "That's how you build customer loyalty," Ballard said. "We would like to see Indiana's pastured poultry become a product that is widely available, widely recognized and valued by consumers." Ballard said organizers hope to create a brand that consumers would associate with the highest standards in food safety, quality and value. A label and related marketing materials would reflect those high standards, in much the same way as the Indiana Grown campaign does.

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Purdue-related startup to help wine grape growers battle drought

VinSenseEntrepreneurs at VinSense LLC, say their company could help grape growers and winemakers to optimize quality and yields in their vineyards while minimizing irrigation water use. VinSense LLC was co-founded by Christian Butzke, Food Science, Phillip Owens, Agronomy, and David Eberts, Electrical and Computer Engineering to commercialize their integrated technology that can help wine grape growers better understand how the microclimate, including soil temperature, water and nutrient flow and availability, affects the characteristics of their vineyard's high-value crop.

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Mild and dry weather expected initially this winter in Indiana

snow sceneIndiana likely will be mild and dry early this winter and then return to more normal weather later in the season, the Indiana State Climate Office says. Yet climatologists caution that this does not mean Indiana won't have blustery cold snowstorms that blow through the region during the peak of the winter months. Winter weather in the Midwest is often driven by combinations of global weather patterns, known as oscillations. One oscillation may have more influence over all others in determining what any winter season turns out to be like in Indiana. This year, the major oscillation at work is ENSO, the El Niño - Southern Oscillation, or, specifically, the El Niño portion of ENSO. El Niño is identified by the cyclic warming of tropical surface water temperature in the Pacific Ocean. It affects Indiana weather, especially in the winter. The current El Niño, which arrived in Indiana over the summer and should reach its peak in December, is among the strongest on record since 1950.

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Dendrimer technology gets a grip on cell proteins, could improve cancer treatment

Andy TaoPurdue researchers have devised a way to capture the finer details of complex cell processes by using tiny synthetic particles known as dendrimers, a technology that could lead to more targeted treatment for cancer. A precise understanding of how cells engulf small particles, a process known as endocytosis, could help researchers improve drug delivery and reveal the mechanisms of viruses. But the particles "eaten" by cells and the proteins that control cell entry pathways are too little for conventional technologies to detect. W. Andy Tao, professor of biochemistry, and his collaborators developed a method that sends dendrimers into cells to track, capture and isolate the proteins that regulate the cell internalization process, identifying 809 proteins involved in cell entry pathways. The technology, known as Tracing Internalization and TrAfficking of Nanomaterials (TITAN), "helps us understand how cells internalize extracellular particles and how they move these particles around," Tao said. "This is all useful, valuable information for the future as we try to disrupt those processes to keep harmful things like viruses out or work with the processes to deliver a helpful drug."

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Purdue economist: Turkey prices up but rest of menu stable

turkeysConsumers can expect below normal increases in the price of food for Thanksgiving dinner this year, with one exception: turkey. Corinne Alexander, Agricultural Economics, said there has been only an 0.8 percent increase in grocery prices from September 2014 to September of this year. She attributes the slight increase to ample grain inventories and an expansion in livestock production. But she expects turkey prices to be about 15-20 percent higher than last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts wholesale prices for Eastern market whole turkey to be between $1.31 and $1.37 per pound the last three months of this year, compared with $1.14 last year. Alexander said the actual prices consumers will pay will vary. Affecting prices will be the differences between frozen and fresh turkeys, organic and nonorganic, brand names and the value of store coupons and price specials.

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Veterinary dean: Task force wants antibiotic resistance solutions at top of public health agenda

Willie ReedA national task force report on the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in animal agriculture spotlights the need to make finding solutions a top public health priority, said Willie Reed, dean of the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine. Reed serves on the 14-member Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture composed of agricultural educators, industry leaders and animal health specialists. In its report released Oct. 29, the task force recommended that a centralized research organization be created to coordinate public and private efforts to curb antibiotic resistance, which the group says "threatens human, animal and environmental health." 

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Purdue study shows potential for growth in biofuels from corn stover

corn stoverMaking biofuel from corn crop residue could become economically viable for farmers with government support and, therefore, lead to a major shift in crop rotation practices favoring more continuous corn plantings, Purdue Agricultural Economics researchers conclude. The team — Wally Tyner, the James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics; Farzad Taheripour, research associate professor; and graduate student Julie Fiegel — examined how the development of corn stover for cellulosic ethanol would affect corn and soybean markets and the traditional corn-soybean crop rotation in the United States. Corn stover is considered a “second-generation” biofuel feedstock because it involves transforming the cellulosic material in the stover to biofuels instead of using the corn starch as in conventional corn ethanol.

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Dates and Deadlines

November 18: College Entrepreneurship Event, Deans Auditorium, Pfendler Hall

November 26-27: Thanksgiving Holiday (No classes Nov 25)

December 5: George Van Scoyoc Retirement Reception, 3:00-6:00 pm, Beck Agricultural Center

December 9: College of Agriculture Faculty Meeting. 3:30 p.m., Deans Auditorium, Pfendler Hall

December 20: College of Agriculture Commencement

February 6: Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry, Indiana State Fairgrounds


December 4: TEAM Award nominations due to Cindy Ream


For more dates and deadlines, check the Purdue Agriculture calendar.


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