Gale Buchanan, dean and director of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has been named a 1999 Leader of the Year by Progressive Farmer magazine.
Progressive Farmer editors first began naming Leaders of the Year in 1943. The awards are based on the leader's positive impact on agriculture and work in the person's own state.
A native of Madison County, Fla., Buchanan grew up on a diversified farm. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Florida and a doctorate in plant physiology from Iowa State University.
For 21 years he was a member of the Department of Agronomy and Soils faculty at Auburn University. His primary teaching and research responsibilities were in weed science.
While at Auburn, he developed and taught the university's first weed science course. His research on how weeds affect crop yields continues to benefit farmers in the Southeast today.
In 1980, he became dean and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. He moved to Georgia in 1986 to accept the positions of associate director of the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations and resident director of the Coastal Plain Experiment Station.
Five years ago he assumed his present position as CAES dean and director.
In Buchanan's commendation, PF editors cite Buchanan for "leading the charge in ensuring that land-grant ag colleges survive and endure in our society."
The editors also applaud Buchanan for confronting critics who say only 20 land-grant ag colleges in the United States will be needed by 2020.
"As ag colleges face challenges in the form of immediate budget concerns and questions over their long-term viability," the editors write, "Gale Buchanan can be counted upon as a solid champion for their cause."
Besides his career in agriculture, Buchanan was a distinguished military graduate from the University of Florida ROTC program. He went on to serve in several military roles, including commandant of the Alabama Military Academy. He served in the Army National Guard for more than 35 years and retired in 1991 with the rank of colonel.
(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)