College of ACES
College News

Easter, Fisher recognized by Illinois Pork Producers Association

Published February 14, 2012
URBANA — Robert Easter, former dean of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), now interim vice-chancellor for research at the university, has received the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA).

Bill Fisher, former manager of the U of I Imported Swine Farm and instructor in introductory animal sciences and production courses, was named the IPPA's 2012 Pork Promoter of the Year.

"Dr. Easter's illustrious career has included conducting leading-edge swine-related research projects, teaching students and others around the world about ways to improve pig production. He has also provided outstanding leadership to the College of ACES and the U of I in administrative positions," said Dereke Dunkirk, IPPA president.

Easter joined the U of I as a Ph.D. student in swine nutrition. In 1976 he joined the faculty as an assistant professor and became a professor in 1988. He was responsible for advising undergraduate and graduate students, teaching undergraduate pork production courses and the graduate course in nutrition research techniques.

His research focus from 1976 through the mid-1980s emphasized B-vitamin nutrition of swine with particular attention given to riboflavin and vitamin B-6. By the late 1980s his work had expanded to address weanling pig nutrition and amino acid nutrition and growth. Easter's research was instrumental in developing a lean growth model in the early 1990s.

Between 1992 and 1999, work in his lab emphasized the sow, although he continued to work with weanling pigs. The data from these experiments with sows were used to construct a computer-based computational model to estimate amino acid requirements of the sow during lactation.

In 1996 Easter became head of the U of I's Department of Animal Sciences, and in 2001 he accepted the position of dean of the College of ACES. He served as dean until 2009 when he was appointed to serve as the interim provost and then served for 23 months as interim chancellor of the university.

Throughout his career Easter engaged in educational and consultative activities in the swine and feed industries both in the United States and around the world. From 1994 to 2008, he lectured for two to three weeks each summer in the American Soybean Association-sponsored Chinese Animal Management and Production Systems (CHAMPS) program in China, and he is co-author of a textbook on swine management that is used in China.

As Pork Promoter of the Year, Bill Fisher is being honored for his work in swine production beginning in Oklahoma and continuing through his career as an educator and swine farm manager at the University of Illinois.

"Bill has been instrumental to the success of many IPPA activities and has freely given of his time and assisted wherever possible, going above and beyond the call of duty," said IPPA President Dereke Dunkirk.

As a U of I graduate student, he worked as the Moorman Swine Farm manager and assisted with laboratory classes under Al Jensen. He held positions in the swine industry in Illinois and Oklahoma until he returned to the U of I in 1988 to manage its three swine research units. His responsibilities included the construction and start-up of the new Imported Swine Farm, and he played a valuable role in much of the groundbreaking research that took place at these farms in the next 21 years.

In 2008 Fisher began teaching the swine sections of the introductory animal sciences classes; he also assisted with production classes. He retired from the university in July 2010.

During his time at the university, Fisher was very active in the pork industry and in production of purebred swine. He served on the Illinois Purebred Swine Council and was president for four years. His leadership and guidance in helping with the birthing center at the Illinois State Fair and his involvement in the National Pork Board's Operation Main Street have helped thousands of people learn more about pork production.

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Editor's note: High-resolution digital photos to accompany this press release can be accessed at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Photos/2012.pork.award .