Dean Kirklyn Kerr inducted into WV Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame

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Kirklyn Kerr receives his West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame plaque.

Kirklyn M. Kerr, professor in the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science and dean of the College from 1993 to 2008, was inducted into the West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame on July 15. This honor recognizes natives of West Virginia who have made outstanding contributions to the establishment, development, advancement and improvement of the agriculture, forestry and family life of West Virginia.

Over the course of his 60-year career, Kerr has made significant contributions to agriculture as researcher, private-practice veterinarian, academic leader, community volunteer and now as professor and pathologist at the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, where he provides pathology diagnostic service and trains veterinary pathology residents. He cites the principles and values he learned in 4-H as the foundation for his success and remains a strong supporter of 4-H.

After earning his BS in animal science from West Virginia University, Kerr received his doctorate in veterinary medicine from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. After practicing large animal veterinary medicine in Carlisle, PA, for a year, he returned to WVU and earned a master of science in medical microbiology. He then earned a PhD in veterinary pathology from Texas A&M. As a faculty member, Kerr authored or advised on more than 125 research papers and, in 1968, was certified as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologist. In 1978, he was appointed to the joint position of dean of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine; chair of the Department of Veterinary Science; and assistant dean for research in veterinary medicine. In 1987, he was appointed director of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC); associate dean of the College of Agriculture; and professor of experimental pathology, food and animal health research and veterinary medicine.

In 1993, Kerr was appointed dean of the UConn’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (now the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources). As dean, he served as director of the Cooperative Extension System and of the Storrs Agricultural Experimental Station. Under his leadership, the College underwent a period of dramatic growth in academic, research and extension programs, faculty development, alumni engagement, student recruitment and fundraising as well as facility upgrades and implementation of economic viability programs.

Kerr built productive and supportive relationships with state and federal legislators, commercial growers, agricultural organizations and veterinary organizations. He served on professional boards and committees nationwide, including as chair of the NASULGC (now Association of Public and Land Grant Universities) Board on Agriculture Assembly.

Among Kerr’s achievements was an agreement with the Iowa State University School of Veterinary Medicine, whereby five UConn students are admitted annually to the Iowa veterinary program. The Kirklyn M. Kerr Veterinary Scholarship has provided $1.5 million in support of 38 students over a nine-year period. In recognition of this achievement, he was awarded the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association Veterinarian of the Year. An indication of University administrators’ respect for his leadership abilities was Kerr’s appointment as co-chair of the University’s $2 billion UConn 2000 strategic plan.

In addition to his professional contributions as scientist and administrator, Kerr has volunteered his time in support of an array of community organization and activities, including Lions Clubs International, Little League baseball, Sigma Xi, the Izaak Walton League, Civitan International, his church and Block and Bridle and to a variety of professional organizations. He has received distinguished alumni awards from The Ohio State University and West Virginia University.

By Professor of Extension Nancy Bull

Editor’s note: The West Virginia Agriculture & Forestry Hall of Fame 2017 enshrinees will be listed on its website at a later date.