Beck gift will improve Purdue ag economics, agronomy facilities

May 15, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A gift from Beck's Hybrids will provide for remodeling part of the Krannert Building and a Lilly Hall laboratory on Purdue University's campus to improve facilities for College of Agriculture faculty, staff and students.

The improvements will advance Purdue's work in education, research and outreach in agricultural economics and agronomy.

"We see the passion of Purdue's faculty to bring an even higher level of education, communication and connection to people involved in agriculture," said Scott Beck, vice president of the Atlanta, Indiana-based Beck's Hybrids, the nation's largest family-owned retail seed company. "With several of our own employees being Purdue graduates, we are thrilled to be a part of this world-class university and, specifically, the College of Agriculture, with our investment in the areas of agricultural economics and agronomy."

The Beck family has long provided Purdue with needed resources to help ensure the university remains a world leader in agricultural research and education, said university President Mitch Daniels.

"The Becks continually demonstrate their desire to keep Purdue at the forefront of innovation and education in agriculture," Daniels said. "The need for leadership to make agriculture more productive is greater now than ever before as the world's population grows at a rapid pace. This gift helps to further Purdue's leadership in this vital mission."

The gift includes $1.4 million for remodeling on the seventh floor of Krannert to provide improved student learning space, a distance education studio, and faculty and staff offices for the agricultural economics department. The remodeling is needed in part because the department has outgrown its existing space, said Jay Akridge Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture.

"This is a project that will provide some important new face-to-face classroom space and distance-learning capabilities for the department and the college," Akridge said. "The investment will allow us to reach off-campus students, farmers and Extension audiences in innovative ways through distance-delivered education."

Another $300,000 will be used to match that amount from the plant sciences Purdue Moves investment to create a molecular genetics teaching lab in Lilly Hall. This represents the first facility investment in the Purdue Moves plant sciences initiative, Akridge noted. 

Purdue Moves is a range of initiatives introduced by Daniels to broaden Purdue's global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students.

The Beck family has strong ties to Purdue, dating to 1937 when Lawrence Beck and his son, Francis, each planted three acres of hybrid parent seed corn offered by Purdue's Botany Department. The crop became the first of Beck's Superior Hybrids.

Sonny Beck, president of the company, earned his bachelor's degree in agronomy (1962) and master's degree in agricultural economics (1964) from Purdue. In 1992 he was one of the inaugural recipients of the Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award, the College of Agriculture's highest honor. Gov. Mike Pence in June 2013 appointed him to a three-year term on Purdue's Board of Trustees.

Scott Beck is a 2005 recipient of the DAA Award. He received a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Purdue in 1987 and in 2012 completed the Purdue-Kelley MS/MBA dual-degree program. Son of Sonny Beck, Scott is the oldest of the third generation of Becks involved in the family seed business.

The family in 2006 provided the lead gift for construction of a training and research facility, dedicated in 2007 as the Beck Agricultural Center, at Purdue's Agronomy Center for Research and Education. 

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, 

Sources: Scott Beck, 800-937-2325,

Mitch Daniels,

Jay Akridge, 765-494-8391,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page

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