Penn State 2018 Distinguished alumnus Roger Williams discussed his new book “Evan Pugh’s Penn State: America’s Model Agricultural College", on June 26 as part of a Conversation with Colleagues Colloquium for alumni and friends hosted by the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Roger Williams and Former Dean, Lam Hood

Roger Williams and Former Dean, Lam Hood

The book was released in March and is Williams' second book about the history of Penn State. The other -- "The Origins of Federal Support for Higher Education: George W. Atherton and the Land-Grant College Movement" -- hit bookshelves in 1991.

"It's an important story to tell and a topic I have long wanted to research and write about," Williams said. "Evan Pugh was a Pennsylvania native and a highly accomplished agricultural researcher when he arrived in Centre County to lead the Farmers' High School as its founding president. In just four years, he achieved his vision, what he called a "great experiment" -- establishing the first and greatest agricultural college in America. And he did it during the Civil War, the greatest crisis in America's history."

Penn State University Press - Evan Pugh's Penn State: America's Model Agricultural College

"There's no question that the Farmers' High School became a model institution of its kind in America, and very quickly so," he added. Pugh's vision helped establish the foundation for today's Penn State, now a top 100 global university.

In his review of "Evan Pugh's Penn State," Ariel Ron, the Glenn M. Linden Assistant Professor of the U.S. Civil War Era at Southern Methodist University, writes, "In this wonderfully readable and engaging biography, Roger L. Williams not only recovers the achievements of an important scientist and educational pioneer, but also gives us a much-needed deep history of the movement for land-grant universities. Scholars interested in the roots of public higher education, university-based scientific research, and agricultural modernization in the United States will welcome this outstanding contribution."

Distinguished Alumnus Roger L. Williams

Williams, who retired in 2015 after 12 years as associate vice president and executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, holds a doctoral degree in higher education, his third degree from the University. He wrote his first book about a pivotal leader in the early days of Penn State, "The Origins of Federal Support for Higher Education: George W. Atherton and the Land-Grant College Movement," in 1991, published by Penn State University Press, also the publisher of "Evan Pugh's Penn State." Williams also co-edited "Future of the American Public Research University," part of the Global Perspectives in Higher Education series published by Sense Publishers, in 2007.

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