Associate Deans and Directors of Academic Programs

Since 1926, six people have led Purdue Agriculture Academic Programs. Below are snapshots of their tenures.

Verne C. Freeman was Purdue Agriculture’s first Associate Dean and Director of Resident Instruction. (In U.S. land-grant colleges of agriculture, on-campus instruction was called “Resident instruction” until that term changed to “Academic Programs” in the early 1980s.) Dean John H. Skinner appointed Freeman as Assistant to the Dean in 1926 after he earned the Master of Science in Agriculture degree in Animal Husbandry.

Freeman’s title changed in 1939 to Associate Dean of Agriculture and then again in 1959 to Associate Dean of Agriculture and Director of Resident Instruction — the title he held when retiring in 1969 after 43 years overseeing Agriculture undergraduate programs and the Eight-Week Winter Course.

During his tenure, Freeman also served several years as the Purdue Faculty Representative to the Big Ten Conference; National President of Alpha Gamma Rho; and National High Chancellor of Alpha Zeta.

From 1969 to 1984, Professor A.R. “Rudy” Hilst served as Purdue Ag’s second Associate Dean and Director of Resident Instruction. Hilst began his Purdue career as an Instructor in 1949, rose to the rank of Professor, and became Assistant Head of the Department of Agronomy in 1965. In 1967, he became Coordinator of Purdue Regional Campus agriculture programs.

During his tenure, School of Agriculture academic majors increased from 22 to 37. The school added the Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture and the Associate in Agriculture degrees.

Recognized as the “Outstanding Teacher” by the Purdue School of Agriculture and the American Society of Agronomy, Hilst was named one of twelve “Legends of Agronomy” at the department’s 100thanniversary celebration in 2007.

In 1984, Karl G. Brandt became Associate Dean of Agriculture and Director of Academic Programs, a position he held until 2002. Brandt joined the Purdue Agriculture faculty in the Department of Biochemistry in 1966. He served from 1981–84 as an Assistant Dean of the Purdue Graduate School and from 1982–83 as Chairperson of the University Senate. In 1986, he served as Acting Dean of the School of Agriculture while maintaining his Academic Programs responsibilities.

Brandt oversaw the regrowth of student enrollment in the college, the elevation of admission standards, and the broadening and strengthening of degree requirements.

Brandt was a scholar among scholars, an excellent teacher, and a highly respected student mentor. In 2003, he received the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Teaching Award and was named to the Purdue “Book of Great Teachers.”

A. Dale Whittaker was Purdue’s fourth Associate Dean and Director of Academic Programs from 2002–10. Whittaker earned M.S. (1984) and Ph.D. (1987) degrees in the Purdue Department of Agricultural Engineering before establishing an excellent record as a faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Whittaker championed undergraduate curricular changes including educational outcomes, diversity requirements, and experiential activities including undergraduate research.

From 2010-2014, Whittaker was Purdue’s Vice-Provost of Undergraduate Academic Affairs; from 2014-2018, Provost and Executive Vice-President, University of Central Florida; and in July 2018 was named President of the University of Central Florida.

John G. Graveel was Interim Associate Dean and Director of Academic Programs during 2010–11.  Graveel earned B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Purdue School of Agriculture and was a faculty member at the University of Tennessee before joining the Purdue Department of Agronomy faculty in 1992. He was Director of the Purdue Natural Resources and Environmental Science Program from 1995–2010 and was Assistant Dean and Assistant Director of Academic Programs during 2008–2010. Graveel is one of the 60 College of Agriculture faculty members enshrined in Purdue’s “Book of Great Teachers.”

photo of Marcos Fernandez, current Associate Dean and Director of Academic Programs

Marcos Fernandez, current Associate Dean and Director of Academic Programs

J. Marcos Fernandez became Purdue Agriculture’s sixth Associate Dean of Agriculture and Director of Academic Programs in July 2011. From 2005–11 Fernandez was Associate Dean and Director of Academic Programs at The Pennsylvania State University. Fernandez held previous animal sciences faculty and academic leadership positions at Louisiana State University and Langston University in Oklahoma.

Fernandez is especially connected and involved with College of Agriculture undergraduate students. He has individual meetings with new freshmen each fall and ongoing interactions via social media.

He is a highly respected national leader among College of Agriculture Deans and Directors of Academic programs. Fernandez is Chair-Elect of the Academic Committee on Organization and Policy of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

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