There are certain things in this world I hold dear. God. Family. The Illini. Agriculture. And when two of them align in an entirely unprecedented and influential way? Nirvana.
So it is with Bob Easter.
Dr. Easter is an animal scientist who became department head, who became dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, who became chancellor of the University of Illinois, who became president of the University of Illinois.
To clarify and re-state: one of our own is the actual president of the University of Illinois. The man who walks into the University President's office every day has worked pigs before.
That is both really cool, and really influential.
Not that he thinks of it that way. Dr. Easter's rise to the very top of the Illinois academic system was the result of a nearly-40-year career, marked by excellence in research and teaching, and an ability to look ahead and to work with people. And honesty; Easter followed two university presidents lost to scandal. Faculty love his honesty and scholarly credentials - the buckets of vegetables he brings in from his garden every summer don't hurt either.
Dr. Easter is a renowned expert in livestock feeding, authoring books and more than 90 peer-reviewed articles. He's spoken to audiences in the U.S. and in more than 30 countries about livestock feeding. A native of Texas, he did his undergrad and graduate work at Texas A&M, in animal nutrition. He earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1976, took an assistant professorship here in swine nutrition and management, and the rest is history.
He served as Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences from 2002-2009, a time of transition and budget changes, all marked by his steady leadership. He served as interim chancellor from 2009-2011, essentially serving as the CEO of the campus. He also served as interim provost and interim vice chancellor for research.
In July 2012, Dr. Easter was named the 19th president of the University of Illinois. He oversees 78,000 students on three campuses, where 20,000 degrees are awarded annually. He agreed to the job for a short-term stint, to bring stability to the University's top office. Dr. Easter will retire in June 2015, and the University just last week announced Timothy Killeen as his replacement.
It's a phenomenal career. Dr. Easter's longtime colleagues joke that he's held every position at the University except for maintenance worker and head basketball coach – and he'd probably be awesome at those, too.
He is genuine. I love genuine. I think it may be what makes people most influential. Because when you are genuine, you are trustworthy. Trustworthy leads people to both listen to you and work with you.
An extraordinary communicator and leader, with an extraordinarily genuine approach. It's what makes him an agriculturalist who influences.
Agriculturalists Who Influence: The Series
- Day 1: Introduction
- Day 2: Jim Evans
- Day 3: Becky Doyle
- Day 4: David and Nancy Erickson
- Day 5: Katie Pinke
- Day 6: Joe Hampton
- Day 7: Noreen Frye
- Day 8: Carolyn Olson
- Day 9: John and Kendra Smiley
- Day 10: Colleen Callahan
- Day 11: Neil and Debbie Fearn
- Day 12: Martin Barbre
- Day 13: Pam Smith
- Day 14: Jim Esworthy
- Day 15: Erin Ehnle
- Day 16: Al Somers
- Day 17: Tom Carr
- Day 18: Russ and Marilyn Rosenboom
- Day 19: Matt Lloyd
- Day 20: Max Armstrong
- Day 21: Steve Foglesong
- Day 22: Sharon Spangler
- Day 23: Scott and Shantel Beck
- Day 24: Bob Easter