Sutherland Gift Honors Jay Lush: A Legend In Animal Breeding

October 15th, 2002

AMES, Iowa—Iowa State University alumnus Tom Sutherland and Jean Sutherland, Fort Collins, Colorado, have taken the lead in establishing the Jay Lush Endowed Professorship in Animal Breeding and Genetics with a $500,000 contribution to Iowa State University.

Tom Sutherland said he hopes others who have benefited from the animal science program will follow with similar gifts—with the intention of building the endowed professorship into a chair in animal breeding honoring Lush.

Lush was Sutherland's major professor during graduate school. Sutherland graduated in animal science with a master's in 1956 and doctorate in 1958 in animal breeding.

"Iowa State University is extremely proud of alumnus Tom Sutherland for his many outstanding contributions to agriculture, education and world understanding," said Iowa State President Gregory L. Geoffroy. "Now we are extremely grateful to him for his generosity and leadership in creating this lasting memorial to honor one of the great animal scientists of the 20th century, Professor Jay Lush."

"Lush was a great teacher who guided many careers," Sutherland said. "He was demanding and strict, but personable and kind."

Lush was a professor of animal science from 1930 to 1966 and named distinguished professor of agriculture in 1958. He also was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and recipient of the U.S. National Medal of Science. During Lush's career, Iowa State attained a worldwide reputation of excellence in animal breeding and genetics, a position still held today.

Lush is considered the father of modern animal breeding and was one of the first to teach the importance of selective breeding. Sutherland said the idea was radical at the time because animal selections were based on appearances in the show-ring. Lush's program was the first in the country to promote a quantitative approach to animal breeding.

"The Lush school of animal breeding was based on quantitative genetics and statistics," Sutherland said. "He wanted measurable results, such as milk production, the rate of growth or thickness of back fat."

The gift will strengthen Iowa State's new Center for Integrated Animal Genomics.

"Iowa State has the lead in innovative research in animal genomics," Sutherland said. "Researchers in the department are among the pioneers in this field. I would like the department to be the undisputed leader in the world, as it was in quantitative genetics."

The Sutherland gift is part of Iowa State's Investing in People initiative. The initiative is a two-year, $50 million effort between the university and the ISU Foundation to raise private funds for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships and faculty support.

"ISU has given to me and I want to give back," Sutherland said.

Sutherland gained international attention when he was abducted June 9, 1985 by the Islamic Jihad and held hostage for six-and-a-half years in Beirut, Lebanon. At the time the Scottish-born Sutherland was serving a three-year term as dean of the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the American University in Beirut.

The ISU Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to securing and managing gifts and grants that benefit Iowa State University.


Jodi Andersen, ISU Foundation, (515) 294-0909

Barbara McManus, Ag Communications, (515) 294-0707