Animal Science Professor Receives International Recognition

July 26th, 2004

An Iowa State University emeritus professor of animal science has been named the recipient of the 2004 Saddle and Sirloin Portrait Award.

A portrait of Richard Willham, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture, will be unveiled at an award ceremony and banquet Nov. 14 in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky.

The portrait collection began with the founding of the Saddle and Sirloin Club in Chicago in 1903. The collection was moved to Louisville in 1977. Willham's portrait will be added to a gallery of original art that contains 340 oil paintings of the world's most famous agricultural leaders, especially those who have provided outstanding service to animal agriculture.

Willham is known for his many contributions to the beef cattle breeding industry and his leadership in the Beef Improvement Federation. He is recognized as a major force behind the development of national sire evaluation and national cattle evaluation programs.

Contributions are being sought for the approximately $25,000 required for the portrait and celebration. Contributions can be made to the Iowa State University Foundation. Checks should be marked "Willham Recognition" and sent to Agriculture Development, 310 Curtiss Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1050.

Willham earned a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State in 1954 and a master's in animal breeding at Iowa State in 1955. After military service, he returned to Iowa State and completed his doctorate in 1960. He went to Oklahoma State in 1963 and started a beef selection project involving Angus and Hereford cattle.

In 1966, he returned to Iowa State where he continued his beef cattle breeding research. He developed the Computer Cowgame, a tool for teaching principles of selection that continues to be used in animal breeding classes worldwide. He created an undergraduate course titled "Our Livestock Heritage" which he taught for years on the Iowa State campus. Since his retirement in 1997, he also has taught it on the Colorado State University campus.

In 1990, Willham was guest curator of an exhibition at the Brunnier Art Museum at Iowa State University titled "Art About Livestock." He has written four books and 27 papers on livestock history. He and his colleagues published 107 journal papers and 300 popular articles. He served as adviser for 32 graduate students who now hold positions in academia and industry.


Maynard Hogberg, Animal Science, (515) 294-2160,
Rich Bundy, Agriculture Development, (515) 294-9088,
Susan Thompson, Communications Service, (515) 294-0705,