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					      The Role of Universities in Agricultural Research
                   Frederick N. Andrews


                 J ANIM SCI 1966, 25:240-243.




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              THE       ROLE        OF     UNIVERSITIES                    IN   AGRICULTURAL
                                              RESEARCH                 1

                                           FREDERICK N.          ANDREWS 2

                                   Purdue University, LaJayette, Indiana

       need for                    has placed
T H Egreat burdenrapid expansionresponsibility
  a                and a great
                                                                 tional foundations of the newer nations, and
                                                                 to cooperate with educational institutions in
upon universities. I t has been necessary for                    other nations in order to help create a free in-
us to examine our original purpose and to at-                    ternational society."
tempt to meet many new demands. The role                            This is a big responsibility, and these are
of the university in the mid-twentieth century                   exciting ideas to the college professor who
has been the subject of a continuing series of                   has traditionally confined his exercise to walk-
studies by a great variety of individuals,                       ing beneath the elms along quiet campus side-
groups, committees and commissions, teachers,                    walks. There are those among our most severe
scientists, administrators, diplomats, bureau-                   critics who accuse the College of Agriculture
crats and miscellaneous experts beyond de-                       of being an island within the university and
scription. Needless to say, there is far from                    isolated from the ferment of the rest of the
complete unanimity of agreement as to what                       campus. The College of Agriculture has shown
the American university is or should be.                         no unwillingness to extend its system to ~the
   A few quotations from " T h e University and                  developing and underdeveloped nations of the
World Affairs", a study made by a commit-                        world, but it has sometimes been reluctant to
tee including Dean Rusk, Senator Fulbright                       change the presumably magic formula which
and former President Morrill of the University                   made us the best fed nation in the world.
of Minnesota, illustrate the role which has                         At the beginning of the twentieth century
either been thrust upon us or which we have                      there was probably more agreement both as
been reaching for:                                               to the nature and the value of a university
   "The American university is caught in a                       education than there is today. The baccalau-
rush of events that shakes its traditions of                     reate degree was an end in itself. I t was still
scholarship and tests its ability to adapt and                   reserved for a relatively small percent of those
grow.                                                            who had the intellectual capacity to complete
   " I t serves the high needs of society, as no                 a college education, and most of those who
other institution can, primarily through its                     persisted until graduation were confident that
teaching and research.                                           the formal portion of their education was suf-
   "At the present time our universities are                     ficient for an entire lifetime. Practical experi-
called upon to bring knowledge of other peo-                     ence, either accompanying or following the
ples into the mainstream of higher education                     college degree, was so highly regarded that it
for Americans, and to help educate the lead-                     was almost a part of the educational tradition
ers and help strengthen the educational insti-                   in North America. The young man destined to
tutions of newly developing nations.                             take over his father's bank traditionally
   "The universities' response so far, however,                  started at the bottom. The rapidity of his
has been largely sporadic and unplanned. To                      rise within the bank might have been breath-
meet the challenge of their potential role in                    takingly rapid, but both the young man and
world affairs adequately, they now have an                       his father were convinced that hard work,
historic opportunity to undertake, individ-                      practical experience and intelligence guar-
ually and in cooperation, a major effort as                      anteed success. The eager young doctor or
institutions. They have the responsibility, in                   lawyer sought out an associate who had al-
the best university tradition, to make a con-                    ready made his mark and, for practical pur-
tribution which no other institution can: to                     poses, served an apprenticeship with him.
enlarge our horizons as a free society, to help                     In agriculture, at one time, there seemed to
educate the leaders and help build the educa-                    be a never-ending supply of bright rural youth
                                                                 that automatically selected agriculture for a
  1Presented at the General Session, 57th Annual Meet-
ing of the American Society of Animal Science, East Lansing,     career. This is no longer true. In the United
Michigan.                                                        States those of us in the agriculturally related
  2 Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate
School, Purdue University.                                       sciences are competing for the best minds with
                                                           240




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                        ROLE OF U N I V E R S I T I E S I N R E S E A R C H                           241

the basic sciences, the humanities, engineering,      becoming a second-class scientist. There is
law, business and other professions. We as-           already evidence that in some parts of the
sumed that all of our students would have al-         world students elect agriculture or veterinary
ready had a lifetime of farm living and ex-           medicine, because they were denied admission
perience. With each passing year it is more           in biology or in medicine. The              problems
difficult to recruit students who have both           which confront agricultural teachers and re-
intellectual capacity and a practical back-           search workers are not how to compete with
ground of agricultural experience.                    each other, but how to compete for the best
   Our agricultural programs, at both the un-         minds of entering college students.
dergraduate and graduate levels, have: suf-              Until a better measure becomes available
fered from overspecialization. In the 1920's          we are probably agreed that the National
and 1930's specialization seemed to guarantee         Merit Scholars are the cream of the U. S. ed-
success. In our undergraduate curricula we            ucational system. Where do these future sci-
developed four-year programs in such spe-             entists and scholars seek admission? A study
cialized areas as fruit production, vegetable         of the first and second choices of 120,000 of
production, dairy husbandry, poultry hus-             them should cause great concern to agricul-
bandry, hatchery management and dairy                 tural leaders. The first choices of the men,
manufacturing. At the graduate level we of-           in descending order, were M I T , Harvard,
fered special programs leading to the PhD de-         Stanford, Cal Tech, the California Berkeley
gree in poultry nutrition, poultry genetics,          campus, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia
poultry food products, swine: nutrition, artifi-      and Michigan. With the exception of Cornell,
cial insemination, corn breeding, agricultural        agriculture is singularly missing from each of
statistics and many others. There was a time          these universities.
when such graduates found ready employment               I t is difficult, if not impossible, to determine
in industry or in colleges and universities.          why disciplines vary in popularity at different
Those who still pursue such limited programs          times. Law, medicine, banking and engineer-
may expect to find themselves technically ob-         ing have had their ups and downs. At the
solescent or obsolete by middle age.                  moment there are acute shortages of PhD
   I t must be recognized that the basic dis-         trained mathematicians and physicists, and
ciplines are more important than ever before.         space-oriented sciences have caught the imagi -
Specialization must be delayed until the stu-         nation of some of our brightest young men.
dent has adequate background to enter new             For purposes of discussion let us assume that
fields when, and if, his specialized area is          the best young minds will be attracted to those
mined out. The growth of postdoctoral train-          areas in which there is an abundance of ex-
ing programs is so well established that it is        citing new knowledge. New knowledge de-
unlikely that the trend will ever be reversed.        pends on research; thus, it follows that the
In the biological sciences, for example, many         nature of our agricultural research programs
of those who are blazing new trails in genetics       will to a large extent determine what kind
and physiology received PhD training in               of talent we will be able to attract.
chemistry, biochemistry and physics, and en-             There was a time when state, federal and
tered biology via the postdoctoral ronte. In          industrial research support was largely con-
nutrition, which is essentially a biochemical         centrated in the agricultural experiment sta-
or physiological science, pre- or postdoctoral        tions of our large, publicly-supported uni-
training in chemistry is becoming a practical         versities. The full-time research professor was
necessity for those who want to reach the             far more likely to be in agriculture than in
top of the profession. These appear to be the         any other other school of the university. There
harsh realities of the educational needs of           is little doubt that the availablity of research
scientists and engineers as long as the explo-        funds attracted some really talented people.
sion of new knowledge continues. We cannot            It was no accident that genetics, nutrition,
afford to train a dairy nutritionist, or a swine      plant and animal physiology, and plant path-
nutritionist who cannot compete professionally        ology were dominated by scientists trained
with all nutritionists. We cannot train a rice        in and employed by our colleges of agriculture
breeder or a poultry geneticist who cannot            and the agricultural experiment stations. There
compete with all geneticists. On the same             is no longer anything unique about funds for
basis an artificial insemination expert who is        agricultural research, unless it is that such
not competent in general physiology, en-              funds have steadily shrunk in relative volume
docrinology and biochemistry is in danger of          and in purchasing power since 1940.



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242                                                ANDREWS

   I t cannot be denied that there is a rela-                $50 million for research in 1940, the agricul-
tion between the availability of research sup-               tural experiment station was in a relatively
port and the growth and stature of a disci-                  strong position. As the universities gear up to
pline. There is also little doubt that federal,              spend $2 billion per year for research, as they
rather than state or private, funds have had                 will in the near future, the agricultural sci-
the greatest effect on the changes which have                ences will fall further behind.
taken place in the sciences, medicine, engi-                    The spending in several of our universities
neering and agriculture.                                     for research in the agricultural sciences is not
   In 1964 a total of 14.3 billion dollars in                small, as the following partial summary shows:
federal funds were spent for research and de-
velopment. Of this sum 7.5 billions was al-                         Cornell                 $11.7 million
located by the Department of Defense, 4.3                           Wisconsin               $ 8.1 million
billions by NASA, 1.2 billion by the AEC,                           Illinois                $ 7.5 million
770 millions by HEW, and 165 millions by                            Florida State           $ 6.7 million
                                                                    Michigan State          $ 5.1 million
the NSF. The total federal support for agri-                        Washington State        $ 4.9 million
culture as such was 174 million dollars. Some                       Purdue                  $ 4.8 million
disciplines have been more favored than                             Georgia                 $ 4.6 million
others, particularly physics, chemistry, mathe-                     Tennessee               $ 4.2 million
                                                                    Missouri                $ 4.2 million
matics, engineering and medicine, but those
scientists employed in our schools of agri-
                                                                Data for agriculture were not available for
culture can compete for funds administered
by every branch of the Government, includ-                   all states. When the support for broad areas
ing the Department of Defense. It is common                  is summarized, the status is as follows:
knowledge that in general we are not com-
peting well enough.                                                 Physical sciences        $340 million
                                                                    Life sciences            $249 million
   The data in the following paragraphs were                        Engineering              $170 million
published in the April 1964 issue of "In-                           Agricultural sciences    $107 million
dustrial Research". There are some problems                         Social sciences          $ 70 million
in interpretation because certain universities
are contractors for the operation of large fed-                 The classification of Agricultural Sciences
eral laboratories. The University of Chicago                 is misleading and sometimes serves to the
included the budget for the operation of the                 disadvantage of scientists employed in a col-
Argonne National Laboratory in its total,                    lege of agriculture. If our researchers are to
whereas M I T did not include the Lincoln                    be well supported, our biochemists must be
Laboratory and the Instrumentation Labora-                   able to compete for funds available to all
tory. The total annual research expenditures                 biochemists, and our economists, or sociolo-
of some of the major universities were:                      gists or agricultural engineers must have the
      University of California        $300 million           competence to attract Defense Department,
      University of Chicago           $130 million           NASA, NSF, NIH, or any other funds com-
      Cornell                         $ 52 million           patible with our mission.
      University of Michigan          $ 40 million              The phrase "compatible with our mission"
      University of IIlinois          $ 38 million
      MIT                             $ 36 million           has many different interpretations. There are
      Columbia                        $ 35 million           those who really believe that the agricultural
      Stanford                        $ 31 million           experiment station should limit its activities
      University of Wisconsin         $ 29 million           to applied areas, and engage in only a mini-
      Princeton                       $ 26 million
      Ohio State                      $ 14 million           mum of basic research. It may be that my
      Michigan State                  $ 12.5 million         own disciplines are unique, but I cannot ac-
      Purdue                          $ 11.5 million         cept this view on the basis of my own experi-
      Iowa State                      $ 9.7 million          ence. The problem of fertility has been, and
  There is a great difference in funding be-                 still is, of the greatest importance in both
tween the "haves" and the "have-nots". About                 animal and human populations. Lowered fer-
90% of federal research funds going to aca-                  tility may prevent the economic survival of
demic institutions is allocated to 100 uni-                  the livestock farmer, and may contribute to
versities, and even more of a distortion is the              human malnutrition through a shortage of high
fact that about 40% of such funds goes to                    quality protein, and uncontrolled fertility in
10 universities.                                             man is without doubt the most challenging
  When the universities were spending about                  problem which we will face in the last quarter



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                        ROLE OF U N I V E R S I T I E S I N R E S E A R C H                        243

of the twentieth century. I t is inconceivable         mechanisms of cell division, the nature of
to me that any study involving gametogenesis,          the muscle fibre, and the complex relation-
fertilization, oF development could be so basic        ships of carbohydrate, fat and protein metab-
that it could not have practical applications.         olism, should the animal husbandman with-
The successful development of techniques for           draw from the explosion of knowledge and
the collection and preservation of spermatozoa,        work out another standard of carcass grading
especially the preservation at extremely low           based on visible fat distribution?
temperatures, has made artificial insemination            The answer to these questions should be
possible, if not practical, at all four corners        an emphatic " N o ! " The opportunities in the
of the globe. The practical problems which             life sciences were never greater. The need is
now concern us, e.g., estrual cycle control,           for the best young minds, and we cannot ex-
out-of-season breeding of sheep, the control           pect to attract the truly talented unless we
of litter size in swine, the preservation of boar      give them unlimited opportunities to develop
semen, and the preservation of the fertilized          their talents. There is no danger that we will
ovum will only be solved by the most basic             ever run out of opportunities to put new
research approaches. I f we cannot compete             knowledge to work. I t is really not a question
with the biophysicist or the molecular bio-            of depleting the experiment stations of those
logists for research support for such projects,        who work at the applied level, but rather
we should ask ourselves, " W h y ? "                   the real danger of discouraging the innovators
   The regulation and nature of growth have            from casting their lot with us in the first
intrigued biologists for at least a century.           place. Unless this is done, the disproportionate
The animal scientist was a pioneer in the              support which is available to the medical
characterization of growth in terms of bone,           and biological sciences will distort the school
muscle and fat. Now that we are on the                 of agriculture even more, and force it to be a
threshold of understanding the biochemical             desert island on the university scene.




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