Neal Merchen, Associate Dean for Research and the Director of the Experiment Station in the College of ACES, has been named a Fellow in the administration category of the American Society of Animal Science.
Merchen originally came to the University of Illinois as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences in 1981. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1987 and to Professor in 1993. Merchen taught and conducted research in the area of comparative animal nutrition and mentored 7 Ph.D. and 11 M.S. students.
Since 2001, Merchen’s career has been distinguished by his role in administrative service and leadership for the University of Illinois’ Department of Animal Sciences. In August 2001, he was appointed Interim Head of the department and was ultimately selected as Head in 2003. The beginning of his service as Department Head coincided with drastic financial challenges imposed on public universities throughout the U.S.
As Department Head, Merchen was responsible for approximately 40 tenure-track faculty, 60 other academic positions, 40 nonacademic staff, 100 graduate students, and 500 undergraduates.
During this time, Merchen played a key role in establishing the Agricultural Animal Care and Use Program, a Program Priorities Initiative Team, and a new and innovative Animal Sciences undergraduate curriculum implemented in Fall 2010.
In 2012, he was appointed as Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station. In collaboration with the Dean and Department Heads, he is responsible for implementing federal and state programs in research in ACES.
Since becoming Associate Dean, Merchen implemented the Future Interdisciplinary Research Explorations competitive grant program to stimulate team building and launching of interdisciplinary research programs.
The Fellow award in the administration category is granted to American Society of Animal Science members who have rendered very distinguished service to the animal industry and/or to the American Society of Animal Science, while also having continuous membership in the Society for a minimum of 25 years. The American Society of Animal Science is a professional organization that serves more than 5,000 animal scientists and producers around the world.