April 2, 2007

Charles E. Barnhart, former dean of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, passed away April 1 in Florida.

Barnhart served as dean from 1969 to 1988 and held several positions during his 40-year career at the university. His service and leadership in the College of Agriculture began in 1948 when he was hired as an instructor in animal husbandry. Prior to becoming Dean, he was the Associate Dean for Research and Associate Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.

During his tenure as dean and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, tremendous growth and development occurred for the college and its programs. The Cooperative Extension Service was restructured to encourage better communication with clients. Facilities were modernized under his leadership including construction of the Agricultural Science Building South, Gluck Equine Center Research and Education Center in Princeton and Kentucky Leadership Training Center at Jabez. The regulatory services and agricultural engineering buildings were under construction when Barnhart retired.

The agricultural engineering building was renamed the Charles E. Barnhart Building, in 2001. In the recommendation to the university’s board of trustees, it was noted that Barnhart “inspired people across Kentucky to view the College as theirs, to freely give their time and resources, and to send their college-bound students to the University.”

UK College of Agriculture Dean Scott Smith described Barnhart as a powerful leader of Kentucky agriculture.

“When circumstances called for it, Dean Barnhart could be a fierce advocate for his college,” he said. “In my experience, he was always fair and supportive. And he usually had things figured out well before anyone else. His sense of leadership and service was expressed by the only advice he offered when I became dean, ‘You don’t work for the University of Kentucky. You work at the University, but for Kentucky agriculture.’”

Daviess County agricultural leader Bill Kuegel worked on many projects over the years with Barnhart including the research and education center building that is partially named for Kuegel.

“He was one of the best friends I ever had,” Kuegel said. “He was very aggressive in moving the College of Agriculture forward. He believed in the school and the people in this state. He was just my kind of guy. I could never say enough nice things about him.”

As an internationally recognized authority on animal nutrition, Barnhart authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific and popular publications on swine and swine nutrition.

Over the years, Barnhart was recognized for his service to agriculture by numerous groups. His many honors include 1962 “Man of the Year in Service to Kentucky Agriculture” by Progressive Farmer magazine; 1979 “Man of the Year in Kentucky Agriculture” by the Agricultural Communicators of Kentucky; 1979 “Distinguished Kentuckian Award” from Kentucky Farmer magazine and induction into the Livestock Hall of Fame in 1987 by the Saddle and Sirloin Club.

Retired agriculture dean Oran Little said he and Barnhart’s professional lives became intertwined in 1960 when Little joined UK’s animal sciences department. As Barnhart moved into administrative positions, Little said he encouraged him to do the same. “He was my main mentor as my administrative career was developing,” he said.

Barnhart worked to recruit top quality faculty and had a “deep concern for agriculture,” Little said. “He was very, very dedicated to helping develop the potential of Kentucky’s agriculture.”

In 1986, the Charles E. Barnhart Fund for Academic Excellence was established to support activities which enhance excellence in agricultural programs. Since its inception, the fund has awarded numerous grants in such areas as student enrichment and development, programmatic initiatives, workshops and conferences.

A native of Windsor, Ill., Barnhart grew up on a farm in Greenfield, Ind., and received his undergraduate degree in animal husbandry from Purdue University in 1945. He earned a master’s degree in animal production and veterinary physiology from Iowa State University and his doctorate in animal bacteriology and veterinary physiology from Iowa State as well.


 Laura Skillman, 270-365-7541, ext. 278, Haven Miller, 859-257-4736