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[JULY 14, 2004]  URBANA -- From its creation as a University of Illinois department in 1902 through its merger into the Department of Animal Sciences in 1985, dairy science has been recognized with nearly 100 awards, including national; College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; and campus awards.

"This is indicative of the large number of faculty whose teaching, research and Extension efforts related to dairy science continues to be successful," said Neal Merchen, head of the U of I Department of Animal Sciences. "Dairy science at the U of I has enjoyed success at the national level disproportionate to its size. A relatively small number of faculty have and continue to achieve recognition from their peers."

Information compiled a few years ago by Jimmy Clark, a professor emeritus of animal sciences who specialized in dairy nutrition, indicates that up to that time U of I faculty, students, academic professionals and staff engaged in dairy work had earned 94 awards, including 44 from the American Dairy Science Association, the major scientific association in the field.

"Those awards date back at least to 1939, when Professor S.L. Tuckey was honored by the ADSA, and continue right down to the present," said Merchen. "Two more U of I faculty who have won ADSA awards will be announced later this month during meetings in St. Louis.

"This record is a mark of how highly peers regard the work of U of I staff in the field."


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Merchen said dairy science's track record "is consistent with our overall institutional values.” He explained, “We feel that if we are going to do something, let's be good at it and be among the national leaders."

Strong traditions of excellence existed in both the Department of Animal Science and the Department of Dairy Science prior to the 1985 merger that created the Department of Animal Sciences, Merchen noted.

"That culture has continued to exist," he said.

Dairy science faculty, however, are not the only ones receiving recognition. A number of ADSA awards are given each year to graduate students. Over the years, several U of I graduate students in the field have been recognized.

"This reflects not only the quality of our faculty but the quality of the graduate students who are studying with them," said Merchen. "These graduate student honorees have gone on to have successful careers and become leaders in the dairy field."

Dairy faculty, academic professionals and staff also have won 22 awards within the College of ACES and 13 Urbana-Champaign campus honors.

[University of Illinois news release]

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