Agriculture News

September 23, 2016

Dedications held for new Beck's spaces in Purdue College of Agriculture

Beck’s Floor for Agricultural Economics (From left) Kevin Cavanaugh, Kim Marschand, Glendia Beck, Sonny Beck, Scott Beck, Shantel Beck, Mitch Daniels, Chris Beck, Jay Akridge and Ken Foster at the dedication of the new Beck’s Floor for Agricultural Economics on Friday (Sept. 23). (Purdue University photo/Tom Campbell) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Two newly renovated spaces will provide state-of-the-art learning environments for Purdue University students in Agricultural Economics and Agronomy this fall.

Gifts from Beck’s led to the creation of the premier Beck’s Genetic Lab and Beck’s Crops Resource Center in the Department of Agronomy space in Lilly Hall. The company, led by Purdue alumni Sonny Beck and Scott Beck, also donated money to create the Beck’s Floor for Agricultural Economics in the Krannert Building.

“Our family is grateful to be part of this world-class university,” said Scott Beck, president of Beck’s in Atlanta, Indiana. “We’re passionate about providing the College of Agriculture faculty and students with improved facilities that will enhance their education. Because for us, it’s not just a donation. It’s an investment in the future of agriculture.”

The Beck family has ties with Purdue dating back to 1937 when Lawrence Beck and his son, Francis, each planted three acres of hybrid parent seed corn offered by Purdue’s Botany Department. That crop became the first of Beck’s Superior Hybrids, and the company has now grown into the largest family-owned, retail seed company in the United States.

Dedication of the new Beck’s Floor for Agricultural Economics was held Friday (Sept. 23). The updated seventh floor of Krannert will allow the Department of Agricultural Economics to maintain and increase its global presence and reputation in food, agribusiness and farm management. New office suites offer a concentrated area for faculty and staff, fostering increased collaboration among colleagues that should result in new and innovative research, teaching and outreach.

“We are profoundly grateful for the Beck family’s enduring loyalty and generosity to Purdue Agriculture. The opportunities and resources made possible through the Beck’s Floor for Agricultural Economics will spur students and faculty to advances in food production, agribusiness, and farm management that improve lives here and around the globe,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

A new recording studio will be leveraged for outreach programming. The department’s podcasts — with more than 20,000 downloads to date — will have enhanced audio quality and should reach an even larger audience. Sales and Marketing students will have access to the studio for one-of-a-kind role-playing for critique by peers and faculty members. No other such studio exists at Purdue today, and the computer to operate it was specially built by the university’s Information Technology department.

“Beck’s generosity allows us to capitalize on growth opportunities in education and training for students in environmental and natural resources economics, international trade, international development, agribusiness and commercial farming,” said Department of Agricultural Economics Head Ken Foster.

Dedication of the Department of Agronomy’s new Beck’s Genetics Lab also was held Friday. The new lab in Lilly Hall allows more students than ever before at Purdue to take lab and lecture courses simultaneously. It now offers seats for 24 students, doubling the previous capacity.

The Crops Resource Center offers space for students to meet for class projects and get help from undergraduate or graduate teaching assistants in a variety of crops courses. The space can also be configured for students taking make-up quizzes.

“The investment in the Genetics Lab and Crops Resource Center allowed us to expand our reach to students and enhance our teaching capabilities through active hands-on learning. It has been a tremendous educational benefit,” said Joe Anderson, head of the Department of Agronomy. “Because of Beck’s gifts of time and money, we are able to prepare our students to make a difference.”

Sonny Beck, CEO of Beck’s, earned his bachelor’s degree in agronomy (1962), a master’s degree in agricultural economics (1964), and an honorary doctorate (2007) from the Purdue College of Agriculture.  In 1992, Sonny was one of the inaugural recipients of the Distinguished Agricultural Alumni (DAA) Award, the college’s highest honor. In June 2013, Governor Mike Pence appointed him to a three-year term on Purdue’s Board of Trustees. Scott Beck, president of Beck’s, is the oldest of the third generation of Becks involved in the family seed business, and is a 2005 recipient of the DAA Award. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Purdue in 1987 and completed the Purdue-Kelley MS/MBA dual degree program in 2012.           

Writer: Maureen Manier, 765-494-8403

Agricultural Communications: (765) 494-8415;
Darrin Pack, 
Agriculture News Page

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