Earl Butz, former secretary of agriculture and dean of Purdue University’s College of Agriculture,died in his sleep Feb. 7 in Washington, DC. He was 98 years old.

“Butz served Purdue well as a respected faculty member, department head and dean,” says Randy Woodson, Glenn W. Sample dean of Agriculture at Purdue. “He was a tireless advocate for agriculture and his efforts helped bring Purdue agriculture into international prominence.”

Butz earned a bachelors of science degree in agriculture from Purdue in 1932. In 1937, he earned the first doctoral degree in agricultural economics given at Purdue.

Butz joined the staff of the Purdue Department of Agricultural Economics in 1937. He served as department head from 1946 to 1954. Butz was named dean of Purdue Agriculture in 1957, serving until 1967.

Butz served under several presidents. He was assistant secretary of agriculture from 1954 to 1957 under President Dwight Eisenhower. He was secretary of agriculture from 1971 to 1976 under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Later he traveled the world as a lecturer and consultant.

In 1999, Butz donated $1 million to Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Economics.

Butz was a native of Albion, IN. He married Mary Emma Powell from North Carolina in 1937. She died in 1995.