Ag Sciences faculty member named Penn State Distinguished Professor

July 26, 2011

University Park, Pa. -- Leif Jensen, professor of rural sociology and demography in the College of Agricultural Sciences, has been named a distinguished professor by Penn State.

The title of distinguished professor was established by the Office of the President to recognize a select group of professors with exceptional accomplishments in teaching, research and service.

"Dr. Jensen has been a committed and excellent scholar at the departmental, college and university level throughout his career," said Bruce McPheron, dean of the college. "An analysis of his scholarship demonstrates that he is an international leader in his discipline."

"Further, his commitment to teaching is evident, emphasized by university and national recognition," McPheron continued. "He has served the University and his discipline well, not the least in his leadership here of the Population Research Institute."

Jensen is a leading scholar in the demography of rural poverty, inequality, migration, marginal employment and livelihood strategies. He is internationally known and respected for his work on issues of rural poverty from both basic research and policy perspectives.

"Leif is equally gifted as a teacher and as a contributor to strengthening the instructional programs of the college and university," said Ann Tickamyer, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. "He has consistently high teaching evaluations in both graduate and undergraduate resident instruction." 

"He is a popular and successful mentor for graduate students, with placements in research universities, international universities, public sector agencies and NGOs," she said. "In short, there are few aspects of higher education at Penn State that Leif Jensen has not touched and enhanced with his considerable talent and dedication."

Jensen's research deals with pressing issues facing rural families and communities in Pennsylvania and across the nation and globe. These entail documenting and understanding the causes and consequences of poverty, child and family welfare, rural livelihoods, informal work, and employment hardship in the face of economic change and development. 

Since receiving his doctorate in 1987, he has authored one book; more than 40 refereed journal articles in leading outlets in rural sociology, sociology, demography and related areas; 26 book and monograph chapters; and numerous invited essays, policy briefs, reports, conference papers and invited presentations. His research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Russell Sage Foundation and other funding agencies.

Jensen's influence is underscored by his appointment to such panels as the Research Council of the Rural Policy Institute of the University of Missouri and the Scientific Committee of the Comparative Research Program on Poverty at the University of Bergen, Norway. He also was named a Policy Fellow by the Carsey Institute of the University of New Hampshire.

He received the Rural Sociology Society Excellence in Research Award in 2005.

University distinguished professors must be acknowledged leaders in their fields of research or creative activity; must have demonstrated significant leadership in raising the standards of the university with respect to teaching, research or creative activity, and service; and must have demonstrated excellent teaching skills and contributed significantly to the education of students who subsequently have achieved recognition of excellence in their fields.

For more information, contact Jensen at 814-863-8642 or by email at

  • Leif Jensen, distinguished professor of rural sociology and demography in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 09, 2015