Loerch named senior associate dean in College of Agricultural Sciences

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has named Steven C. Loerch as senior associate dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences, effective Aug. 14.

He will succeed Barbara Christ, who is retiring after 33 years as a faculty member and administrator with the college. She has served as senior associate dean since 2009.

Loerch currently works at the University of Illinois, where he is professor and head of the Department of Animal Sciences, which has been highly ranked nationally.

"Professor Loerch's wealth of experience in teaching, research, outreach and leadership make him the perfect choice to serve as senior associate dean," said Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. "He's enjoyed a prolific and distinguished career, and we are confident his knowledge and expertise will advance our mission. It's truly a pleasure to have someone of Professor Loerch's caliber join our team."

As senior associate dean, Loerch will have broad, college-wide duties in planning, administration and implementation of programs; daily operations; budgets; safety; University policy and procedures; personnel; promotion and tenure; hiring and retention; facilities and land; external relations; and assistance for academic, regional and support units of the college.

"Working in academia has been my passion for 40 years. I am excited about the opportunities and challenges ahead for the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences," Loerch said.

"I believe in the land-grant mission. While many of our traditional stakeholders include those directly engaged in food production, relatively few people in our society raise crops, vegetables, fruits and food animals. Our mission extends well beyond the farm and has huge impacts on the quality of life for all. Discovery research, education and outreach in the agricultural sciences are critical to our entire society."

Loerch is no stranger to the State College area; he grew up on Nittany Mountain, near Lemont. His father was a faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry at Penn State, and his mother taught in the State College Area School District — so the value of an education was impressed on him early on. After graduating from high school, he attended Penn State, where he earned a bachelor's degree in animal industries in 1977.

He went on to earn master's and doctoral degrees, both in ruminant nutrition, from the University of Illinois, where he served as a graduate research assistant.

While serving as professor and department head at the University of Illinois, Loerch led 42 faculty and approximately 400 employees, including students. He was responsible for the operations, management, personnel and budgets for 10 animal research and education units on campus and two outlying research centers. He was also in charge of undergraduate and graduate education programs and extension education.

Among his many accomplishments were increasing freshman enrollment and developing plans — and securing partial funding — for two multi-million dollar projects: a Feed Technology Complex, and a Swine Production and Biomedical Research and Teaching Unit.

Prior to his time at Illinois, Loerch spent 33 years on the faculty at Ohio State University, where he chaired several university committees, including Animal Sciences Long Range Facilities Planning and Agriculture Animal Care and Use, and served as faculty supervisor for several animal centers. During his last 10 years with Ohio State, he helped to secure $2.3 million in grant funding.

He has received numerous accolades for his efforts in teaching, research and extension, including the Ohio State University Faculty Research Award; the American Society of Animal Science Ruminant Nutrition Research Award; the Ohio State University Gamma Sigma Delta Faculty Research Award; and the American Society of Animal Science Research Fellow Award.

In addition, Loerch has written and/or contributed to more than 130 scientific papers, which have been published in respected academic publications such as the Journal of Animal Science, Journal of Environmental Quality, and Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

The College of Agricultural Sciences, the first of the colleges established at Penn State, awarded the nation's first baccalaureate degrees in agriculture in 1861. Today, the college is widely recognized as one of the nation's premier institutions for agricultural research and education programs.

The college includes nine academic departments and operates Penn State Extension offices that serve Pennsylvania's 67 counties. One of the largest and most comprehensive agricultural colleges in the country, the College of Agricultural Sciences invests nearly $97 million in research and graduate study yearly, and has one of Penn State's largest scholarship programs, awarding $2.5 million annually.

For more information, visit the college's website.

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Last Updated March 31, 2017