University of Illinois President Bob Easter was the
recipient of this year’s Friend of Agriculture Award at the Illinois Commodity
Conference, and once again the honoree was an excellent choice who represents
all that is good about the state’s agriculture.
As a youngster, Easter was raised on a grain and livestock
farm in southwest Texas. Even as he has climbed to the top leadership post, his
roots still are deep in farm soil. One can leave the farm, but the farm never
Before becoming president, Easter spent his nearly 40-year
career as a senior administrator and faculty member on the university, where he
earned his doctorate in animal science in 1976. He was interim chancellor from
2009 to 2011, serving as chief executive officer of the 42,000-student campus,
and also served as interim provost and interim vice chancellor for
From 2002 to 2009, he was dean of College of Agricultural,
Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Before that, he served as head of the
Department of Animal Sciences, where he has been a faculty member since
An expert in livestock feeding, Easter has co-authored a
book on livestock production and has written more than 90 peer-reviewed
articles, 11 book chapters and numerous papers for conferences and industry
publications. He also has spoken to audiences in the U.S. and 30 foreign
countries on livestock feeding.
In 2006, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the
Board for International Food and Agricultural Development and was appointed as
chair of that board in 2007. He also is a member of the American Society of
Animal Science and the British Society of Animal Science, and he serves on the
Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation and the Governor’s Committee on
Easter earned an undergraduate degree in agricultural
education in 1970 and a master’s degree in animal nutrition in 1972, both from
Texas A&M University.
He completed a doctorate in animal science at the U of I in
1976 and immediately joined the Animal Science Department as an assistant
professor of swine nutrition and management. He presently holds the rank of
His teaching has been recognized by the Midwest Section of
the American Society of Animal Science and at the departmental and college
In 1992, Easter received the American Feed Industry
Association Award in Nonruminant Nutrition Research from the American Society of
Animal Science. In 1994, the College of Agriculture awarded Easter with the
prestigious Paul A. Funk Award for contributions to Illinois agriculture.
He operates a small grain farm in central Illinois and is a
retired officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, where he served for 20 years. He also
is an avid gardener and reader.
Even though Easter’s role at the university has changed over
the past few years, he still takes time to keep in touch with his agricultural
He doesn’t miss the annual Agronomy Day and attends many
other agriculture events throughout the year.
Congratulations to the farm boy from Texas, Illinois
agriculture is proud to have you as part of our family.