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Butz, Earl L. (Earl Lauer) (1909-2008) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Name: Butz, Earl L. (Earl Lauer) (1909-2008)

Historical Note:

Dr. Earl L. Butz (1909-2008 ), educator, administrator, and government official was born on July 3, 1909 to Harmon Lee Butz and Ada Tillie Lower in Albion, Indiana.  Dr. Butz graduated from Purdue University in 1932 (B.S., Agriculture) with a major in animal husbandry.  During his undergraduate career at Purdue he served as an editor to the Exponent, and was a member of Iron Key Honor Society and Alpha Gamma Rho (a national agricultural fraternity).  In 1937 he received his PhD from Purdue in Agricultural Economics, and joined the Purdue staff as an agriculture instructor.

During 1943-1944 Dr. Butz was on leave from his University duties and worked in Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. From 1946 to 1954 he was head of the agricultural economics department at Purdue. Butz was Dean of Agriculture from 1957 to 1967. From 1968 to 1971 he was Dean of Continuing Education and President of the Purdue Research Foundation.

During his time at Purdue University he was active in professional, academic, and civic organizations.  These included being president of the Lafayette Kiwanis Club, vice president of the American Farm Economic Association (now called the American Agricultural Economics Association), vice president of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, vice president of the Indiana Academy of Social Sciences, and national president of Alpha Gamma Rho.

In 1954, Dr. Butz was appointed Assistant Secretary of Agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In that same year he was appointed to the chairmanship of the United States delegation to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In 1957 he resigned both offices to become the Dean of Agriculture at Purdue. In 1968 he was promoted to the positions of Dean of Education and vice president of the Purdue Research Foundation.

President Richard M. Nixon appointed Dr. Butz Secretary of Agriculture in 1971.  He continued to serve in that capacity into the President Gerald R. Ford administration (1976).  Dr. Butz was a highly controversial figure throughout his tenure in this position.  He resigned on October 4, 1976, a result of controversy in response to comments he made in public.

Sources: Conn, S. 2008, February. Obituary: Earl Butz, 1909-2008. Exponent.
Note Author: David Hovde; archives staff

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