The Agriculture Faculty at Purdue


Composition of the Agriculture Faculty: All employees with the rank of at least Assistant Professor and those having the rank of Instructor for at least two years shall be eligible to vote on all Agriculture Faculty matters. Included are those individuals appointed as an Adjunct Faculty (as defined in Executive Memorandum C-12, 25 August 1987), or a Clinical Faculty member. Research Faculty members may vote on all items, excepting curricular matters. Associate and Affiliate administrative or professional appointees are specifically excluded.

The Agriculture Faculty shall have jurisdiction, consistent with University policy, of specific internal affairs, and shall discuss and make recommendations regarding all matters affecting its responsibilities in teaching, research, and extension. Specifically the Agriculture Faculty shall: establish course content, curricula, requirements, and certification for graduation; advise the Dean in matters of educational policy and long-term planning that affect the responsibilities of the Agriculture Faculty; advise the Dean and others on matters that concern Agriculture Faculty and student welfare.

                   — Constitution of the Agriculture Faculty, Purdue University, May 2017

Identified as “The Agricultural Faculty” prior to 2017, the total college faculty has held responsibility for determining course content, curricula and degree requirements for more than a century.

But how did this begin?

Photo of Professor William C. Latta

Professor William C. Latta, first chairman of The Agricultural Faculty

The group formed during the 1902 fall semester, when Professor William C. Latta called a meeting of the faculty. In attendance were Professors James Troop, Hubert E. Van Norman, John H. Skinner, Robert A. Craig and William C. Latta.

On motion by Prof. Skinner a permanent organization was made by electing Prof. Latta chairman and Prof. Van Norman secretary.

  — Minutes of Meeting of Agricultural Faculty, November 17, 1902

Thus, “The Agricultural Faculty” was formally established 116 years ago. In the early 1900s, it was common for the total faculty to meet several times each year to debate course and curricular content that would be published afterward in the annual University catalog. Debate, on occasion, was “very warm” and consensus was usually, but not always, achieved.

The faculty has held multiday meetings to determine curricula and graduation requirements several times over the years. Some of the more interesting ones occurred in 1958, 1969 and 2000.

Faculty governance decisions practiced by the Agriculture Faculty have involved the total faculty rather elected representatives. This process has served the college and students very well.

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