Posted: May 6, 2016

Students in the College of Agricultural Sciences who are candidates for a graduate degree in rural sociology and have exhibited academic excellence are eligible for the fellowship.

Luther Glenna resisted the advice given by so many agricultural experts in the 1970s. They said that to succeed, farmers must expand their operations and "get big or get out," a task that often required taking on a heavy debt load to pay for new land and technologies. Luther's choice to remain small ultimately helped his farm stay in the family during the farm crisis of the 1980s, when many others lost their farms.

Luther's belief in rural and small-scale farming is the reason that his son, Leland, associate professor of rural sociology and of science, technology, and society, and Leland's wife, Esther Prins, associate professor of education, have established the Luther R. Glenna Graduate Fellowship in Rural Sociology with a $250,000 gift. The couple used proceeds from the sale of the Glenna family farm to fund the gift.

"Rural sociologists promote critical thinking that is grounded in social and environmental conscientiousness," said Leland Glenna. "Therefore, it is appropriate for Luther Glenna's name to be attached to a rural sociology graduate fellowship at Penn State, one of the few remaining rural sociology programs in the country."

According to Ann Tickamyer, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education, "This award greatly enhances opportunities for graduate students in rural sociology to pursue their studies of the social factors that influence rural communities and livelihoods, especially as they are intertwined with natural resources and the environment."

--Chuck Gill