1997 Dairy Leadership Award

Stephen F. Whitted, Columbia

A cadre of leaders in the nation’s milk marketing sector was trained and/or advised for their roles by Stephen F. Whitted, University of Missouri professor emeritus of agricultural economics.

During his 26-year career on the MU faculty Steve was academic adviser for 27 graduate students working toward master of science and/or doctor of philosophy degrees.

One acquaintance says “Steve’s graduate students have been leaders in the milk marketing arena and likely outnumber similarly trained graduates of any other single university.”

It is a fact that many of Steve’s graduates are now, or have been, leaders in the academic, cooperative, foundation, and government agency worlds.

There are widely known examples in milk marketing cooperatives.

Take Dairy Farmers of America – formerly Mid-America Dairymen. The largest milk marketing cooperative in the country has MU graduate Gary Hanman as its chief executive officer.

“Dr. Whitted not only made it possible for me to get a masters degree at MU but also convinced me to change my major from farm management to dairy marketing. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” says Hanman, “He was a true teacher, not just an instructor. He made you want to learn rather than having to learn to pass.”

Also, at Dairy Farmers of America, Bill Blakeslee, chief operating officer of the Southern Fluid Group and corporate vice president of member and public relations; Sam McCroskey, chief operating officer of the Formulated Dairy Food Group; and Lonnie Spurgeon, chief operating officer of the Dairy Foods Group, are also products of Steve’s advising.

At Prairie Farms, Gary Lee and Don Kullmann are MU products and Tom Mills has worked at MFA.

  1. Linwood Tipton, a 1957 advisee, was with the Milk Industry Foundation in Washington, D.C., for many years. Richard Eggers, a 1971 graduate worked for the St. Louis Federal Land Bank, now Farm Credit Services.

Don Nicholson, market administrator, Federal Milk Marketing Administration, Tulsa, Okla., is one of Steve’s graduate student advisees – MS ’61. “When there’s a Cooperstown Hall of Fame for dairy economists, Steve Whitted will be one of the first inductees,” Nicholson says.

Richard Fallert, Floyd Lasley, and Horace Armstrong have all had careers with various U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies.

On the academic side, Steve’s advisees have filled faculty positions at Colorado State University, University of Wyoming, University of Kentucky, Southwest Missouri State University, Clemson University, Morehead State University, University of Hawaii, and Bhubaneswar College of Agriculture in Orissa, India.

Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield has two Whitted-trained faculty members in its Department of Agriculture. Profs. J.N. Smith and Robert Glenn both have doctorates in agricultural economics.

Smith, who received his doctoral degree with Steve’s guidance more than 30 years ago, says “Steve was one of the most dedicated and student focused professors I have encountered. He was highly disciplined in his thought and had high expectations of his students. And, integrity was always of extreme importance.”

Steve also influenced students in other MU departments. For example, many of the graduate students in the Department of Dairy Science took his graduate level courses in milk marketing.

Charles Cramer, a coworker and former department chair of the MU Department of Agricultural Economics and now retired, notes that “Steve was remarkable in his ability to work with the various parties interested in milk marketing and was one of the architects in the changes in the dairy industry during the 20-year period from 1960 to 1980.”

Steve was born Sept. 30, 1914, in Mulvane, Kans., but grew up in Douglas County where he graduated from Ava High School in 1934. He farmed in Douglas and Christian Counties until1941 when he began a seven-year stint in the U.S. Army which included World War II service in the South Pacific.

Following his Army service, Steve was a member of the Missouri National Guard reaching the rank of major.

Taking advantage of the G.I. Bill, Steve received a MU College of Agriculture

BS with Distinction in 1951 as well as MS and PhD degrees in 1954 and 1960. His masters thesis was “Marketing Fluid Milk in Missouri” and his doctoral dissertation was “Economic Analysis of Alternative Uses of Surplus Grade A Milk in Fourteen North Central States.”

During his MU tenure he was a prolific author of Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station research bulletins. Also during his career Steve was recognized by various milk marketing organizations and his peers at other land­grant universities.

Steve and his wife Emogene now live in Columbia. They have a daughter, Catherine Sue, who lives in Des Moines.