Veterinary pathologist Thacker receives Hovde Award

December 10, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A veterinarian who became a leader in animal pathology and headed the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University for 23 years is the 2010 recipient of the Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence in Educational Service to Rural People of Indiana.

Leon Thacker

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Leon Thacker, interim head of comparative pathobiology and a professor of veterinary pathology in the School of Veterinary Medicine, received the award Friday (Dec. 10) at the annual Indiana Farm Bureau convention in Indianapolis. The award honors Purdue staff with a record of outstanding achievement and service to rural communities.

"Dr. Thacker has distinguished himself both in Indiana and across the country through his leadership of the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory," said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. "His career of exemplary teaching, research and leadership in service to the veterinary and agricultural communities makes him distinctively qualified for the Hovde Award."

The award is sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau and carries with it a monetary prize. It is named for Purdue's seventh president, who served from 1946 to 1971.

Thacker has worked to solve problems of livestock producers throughout his 45-year career, from his private practice in Campbellsville and Cynthiana, Ky., as a Purdue faculty member, and as director of the ADDL.

The ADDL under Thacker's leadership advanced the health of animal populations and contributed to the economic vitality of rural Indiana. He led successful disease control and eradication programs that reduced both animal suffering and farmers' production costs and prevented diseases that threatened animal and human health.

During his tenure, the ADDL assisted the Indiana Board of Animal Health, swine producers and swine veterinaries in the eradication of pseudorabies from Indiana. He also worked to unravel the complexities of porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome, a disease that has caused widespread chronic infections in swine.

Willie M. Reed, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, said Thacker "has made more contributions to the rural people of Indiana and to our nation in the field of animal disease diagnostics than any alumnus of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

"He has served the veterinary and agricultural communities in Indiana with distinction, and his commitment to transferring knowledge and helping our rural citizens has never wavered."

Thacker had served as chair of the Accreditation Committee of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, during which time the organization became recognized worldwide as the accrediting body for U.S. veterinary diagnostic laboratories. He later became president of the organization and received the Pope Memorial Award, the highest recognition bestowed on a member.

The Indiana Veterinary Medical Association selected Thacker as Veterinarian of the Year in 2009, when Gov. Mitch Daniels also honored him as a Sagamore of the Wabash.

Writer:  Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, robins89@purdue.edu

Sources:  Jay Akridge, 765-494-8391, akridge@purdue.edu

                   Willie M. Reed, 765-494-7608, wreed@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page


Related websites:

Purdue University School of Verterinary Medicine

Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory

Indiana Farm Bureau