It is our pleasure to share with you the rich history of the Department of Dairy and Animal Science at Penn State. The Department as we know it today was built upon more than a century of wisdom, expertise, hard work, and achievements of countless faculty, staff, and students.

The origin of the Department of Dairy and Animal Science goes back to 1887, when Dr. Henry Armsby came to Penn State as Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.  The Department has undergone a number of name changes and mergers since that time, with the most recent being the merger in 2012 with the Department of Poultry Science to create the Department of Animal Science.

The most recent comprehensive, historical summary of the Department was created in 2003. The impetus for documenting this history was the recognition that a written history of the Department did not exist.  As is always the case, as events and time move ahead, and what has happened in the past can fade away.  Consequently, there was great interest in having a written history of the Department to provide a foundation for our successors to appreciate the "lives and times" of so many individuals who created the legacy of the Department.

The idea to develop a history of the department in 2003 was shared with some former faculty who launched the effort that resulted in the Department history.  This group (Don Ace, Chair; Lester Burdette, Bob Cowan, Tom Merritt, Grant Sherritt, Larry Specht, and John Zeigler) did a marvelous job of exploring the many, many documents and photos dispersed around campus. They worked diligently to capture the history of the Department.  There were many entertaining stories shared about "digging" out historical information that resided in the University Archives.

In closing, we hope you enjoy reading about the history of the Department from 1887 to 2003, and appreciate the context that this history adds to the many contributions of the Department to the Land Grant mission.  Stand by for an updated version that will capture important historical events that have occurred since 2003, including the merger with the Department of Poultry Science in 2012.

Adele M. Turzillo
  • Professor and Department Head of Animal Science
Terry D. Etherton
  • Distinguished Professor of Animal Nutrition