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Butz, Earl L. (Earl Lauer), 1909-2008



  • Existence: July 3, 1909 - February 2, 2008

Biographical Information

Dr. Earl L. Butz, educator, administrator, and government official was born on July 3, 1909 to Harmon Lee Butz and Ada Tillie Lower in Albion, Indiana.  Dr. Butz graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Agriculture in 1932 with a major in animal husbandry. During his undergraduate career at Purdue he served as an editor to the Exponent, and was a member of Iron Key Honor Society and Alpha Gamma Rho (a national agricultural fraternity). In 1937 he received his doctorate from Purdue in Agricultural Economics, and joined the Purdue staff as an agriculture instructor.

From 1943 to 1944 Dr. Butz worked at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.; from 1946 to 1954 he was head of the agricultural economics department at Purdue. In 1954 Butz was appointed Assistant Secretary of Agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In that same year he was appointed to the chairmanship of the United States delegation to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In 1957 he resigned both offices to become the Dean of Agriculture at Purdue. Butz served as Dean of Agriculture from 1957 to 1967 and was Dean of Continuing Education and President of the Purdue Research Foundation from 1968 to 1971.

President Richard M. Nixon appointed Dr. Butz United States Secretary of Agriculture in 1971. He continued to serve in that capacity within the President Gerald R. Ford administration. Dr. Butz was a highly controversial figure throughout his tenure in this position. He resigned on October 4, 1976, the a result of controversy in response to comments he made in public.

During his time at Purdue University he was active in professional, academic, and civic organizations. These included being president of the Lafayette Kiwanis Club, vice president of the American Farm Economic Association (now called the American Agricultural Economics Association), vice president of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, vice president of the Indiana Academy of Social Sciences, and national president of Alpha Gamma Rho.


Conn, S. 2008, February. Obituary: Earl Butz, 1909-2008. Purdue Exponent.


MSO 1, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Oral History Program collection, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

David C. Pfendler papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 430
Scope and Contents Papers of David Pfendler, primarily relating to agriculture, education, and student freedoms and responsibilities. Includes some speeches and papers by Earl Butz; "Comments for Coeds" (a handbook for women students, 1958); information on flag desecration and Students for a Democratic Society; Statewide Educational Programs Committee; and information on women in agriculture. Please see PDF Finding Aid for collection inventory.
Dates: 1941-1973