WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Lee Schweitzer has been around Purdue
University since his college days in the ‘70s.
Although he’s seen roads and buildings change, one thing
hasn’t: The character and quality of Purdue’s Agronomy Department.
Schweitzer, a Purdue agronomy professor, described the
department as a close-knit family of students and faculty.
His personal goal is to motivate students and maintain a
tradition of excellence.
“Agronomy is at the intersection of genetics, soils, plants
and the management of variables that manage yield,” Schweitzer said.
“I can attest the quality and caliber has not changed for
many years. Our goal is really to provide a family setting and provide time to
spend with each student. It’s not all about getting them across the finish line
— it’s more about mentoring.”
The department consists of around 170 undergraduates
studying one of six majors that range from crop science to plant genetics,
breeding and biotechnology.
Students studying agronomy can rest assured they are taking
an academic path with lots of potential, said Jane Wiercioch, undergraduate
“I’ve heard different families say, after they visited, they
leave feeling at ease,” she said. “We have faculty advisers, which is rare on
campus. It feels like a second home.”
Schweitzer said the department includes students with
different talents and goals. From sales and management to turf science, there
are many options for students interested in applying scientific principles.
“Agronomy is such a neat field,” Schweitzer said. “Our
students have multiple offers, even starting after freshman year for
“The neat thing about agronomy is we’re problem solvers.
What we try to do is help students realize if they are helping clients solve
problems, they never have to sell them a thing.”
Agronomists that go out of their way to serve their clients,
he said, bring in sales without even trying.
“You never have to push, prod or misrepresent — you can
always be straight-up and honest,” he said. “And instead of people hiding when
you pull up, they will invite you in for breakfast.”
The department offers a plethora of clubs, study-abroad
opportunities, internship experiences and Extension outreaches. But it all
starts in the classroom.
Professors such as Schweitzer instill lessons by going
beyond the minimum level of involvement and keeping an open-desk policy.
Generations of students walk through the doors each day,
giving the department a sense of tradition that glues its people together.
“That’s why I’m passionate about this stuff,” Schweitzer
said, pointing to an old photo of his father standing with a group of peers and
their tractors. “My father went here. I see generations come through here. We
feel a responsibility to take care of the heritage.”
To find out more about the majors offered, visit