Building Name Now Honors Dean Barnhart
by Randy Weckman
Fifty-three years ago, a young swine nutritionist from Iowa State University interviewed for a job with Thomas Poe Cooper, Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. This spring, a building on the UK campus was named in honor of that young man, Charles E. Barnhart.
Legend has it that at that interview Cooper asked Barnhart if he planned to stay at the College if he were hired, or if he would leave for another position after he gained a few years of experience. Barnhart replied simply: "That depends, sir. If we like it, we'll probably stay. If not, we'll probably leave."
Apparently, Barnhart liked it enough. He remained in the College for 40 years prior to retiring in 1988 as Dean of the College. At the time of his retirement, two new buildings were under construction: the regulatory services building and the agricultural engineering building. The latter building was named June 1 in honor of his outstanding service to the College, the University, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
At the ceremony marking the naming of the building, University of Kentucky President Charles T. Wethington, Jr., said in prepared remarks that "to recognize Dr. Barnhart in this way is most appropriate, because he helped set the gold standard for agricultural research and service to Kentucky farmers. In his own words, he often emphasized that 'the College of Agriculture belongs to the farmers and the people of this state and is operated for them and their benefit.'"
Barnhart, whose early research into swine nutrition resulted in several patents, became Director of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station in 1966. In that position he was responsible for administering all the research projects of the College of Agriculture.
Barnhart became Dean of the College of Agriculture in 1969, after the death of Dr. William Seay, who was killed when a plane he was piloting crashed in West Virginia.
As dean, Barnhart expanded the breadth and scope of research within the College and multiplied the number of research projects and journal articles coming from the College. He firmly believed in the land-grant philosophy, which defines the University as a "place of knowledge and educational opportunity for all of the citizens of the Commonwealth."
During Barnhart's 19-year tenure as Dean of the College, Director of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station, and Director of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, all the buildings that currently comprise the College's presence on the south end of the campus, as well as key research and education facilities out in the state, were built. These include the Garrigus Building, the Research and Education Center at Princeton, the Kentucky Leadership Center at Jabez, the Gluck Equine Research Center, the Regulatory Services Building, and the Agricultural Engineering Building, now known as the Charles E. Barnhart Building.
Dean Barnhart set goals of recruiting the best faculty and students to the College and he knew the College's facilities would need to be upgraded to accomplish that. The building that now bears his name is one of the last of buildings constructed or funded during his tenure as Dean.
The 66,500 square-foot Charles E. Barnhart Building currently houses faculty and staff from the Department of Agricultural Economics, the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, and the computing section of Agricultural Communications Services.
As an internationally recognized authority on animal nutrition, Barnhart authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific and popular publications on swine and swine nutrition. He also is well known to the nation's livestock industry and earlier in his career served on swine breed type standardization committees and judged many state and national swine shows. He brought several trophies back to the University of Kentucky, including one in 1959 for the Grand Champion Barrow at the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago.
In recognition of his outstanding work in livestock, Barnhart was inducted into the Livestock Hall of Fame in 1987 by the Saddle and Sirloin Club. His portrait now hangs at the Louisville Fair and Exposition Center along with those of other important industry notables.