The Department of Agricultural Economics was created along with the other four departments, Agricultural Education, Animal Science, Agricultural Engineering Technology, and Plant and Earth Sciences in 1967. R. Vern Elefson, who had joined the faculty after receiving his PhD from the University of Minnesota, was the first Department Chair, and remained in that position until his retirement in 1993.
Gary Rohde, a UW-River Falls graduate, joined the department after receiving his doctorate from UW-Madison. In the mid-1970’s Rohde was selected as Assistant Dean of the College, and was instrumental in the design and start-up of the Internship Program. In 1976 Rohde temporarily left the University, relocating to Madison to accept his appointment as the Wisconsin State Secretary of Agriculture. He later returned to take up the position of College Dean in 1981.
Other faculty members from the early period were Gerald Nolte (1970), James Shatava (1972), and Willmar Dahl (1976). Both Rohde and Nolte were honored during their careers as University Outstanding Teachers. Dahl left the University to became the Director of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Other faculty members included Dr. Pat Cantlon, Dr. Mary McKnight, Dr. Lewi May, and Dr. Stan Schraufnagel.
During the course of its existence, the department has offered several different academic programs, including majors in Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Marketing, and Farm Management. For several years the department offered a masters degree program in Agricultural Economics, a joint effort with the Department of Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences.
In the early 1980s, the department underwent a reorganization driven by financial considerations and also student demand. The result was a more focused department with a single undergraduate major, Agricultural Business.
Other faculty members in the Agricultural Economics Department include the following:
|Nate Splett||1994-2012 (later appointed Associate Dean and Acting Dean)|
|Brenda Boetel||2002-present (later appointed Assistant Dean)|