(Pictured: Stephen Cameron, head of Purdue’s Entomology Department, speaks prior to the Tuesday Pi Chi Omega membership meeting.)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Prior to the Pi Chi Omega membership meeting at Purdue University on Tuesday, Stephen Cameron, head of Purdue’s Entomology Department, provided an important update on the John V. Osmun Endowed Chair of Entomology at Purdue University.
In the early 2000s, members of the pest control industry formed the Purdue University Endowed Chair Committee to raise funds for the creation of the John V. Osmun Endowed Chair. This would be the department’s second endowed chair (the university also is home to the O. Wayne Rollins/Orkin Chair in Urban Entomology).
A named endowed professorship is one of the highest honors a university can bestow on a member — or past member — of its faculty. It is an academic position permanently supported with the revenue from an endowment fund specifically set up for that purpose.
The reasons behind creating the John V. Osmun Endowed Chair were two-fold: (1) To fund a permanent position at Purdue that furthers the university’s entomology department’s mission of performing cutting-edge research that is applicable to the pest management industry; (2) and honor the late John V. Osmun, the iconic Purdue professor who was a pioneering advocate of pest control industry education and training. Osmun, who came to Purdue in 1948, established the first four-year program devoted to urban and industrial entomology and helped build the Department of Entomology into one of the finest in the country. He died in 2012 at 94.
In 2007, the committee announced it secured the funding necessary ($1 million) to establish the John V. Osmun Endowed Chair thanks to contributions from a broad collaboration of 52 donors.
Cameron provided Pi Chi Omega members, several of whom were involved in fundraising efforts, with the following update. He said that in late summer 2016 the university had vested the chair, meaning it had decided there were enough funds in it to begin identifying candidates to fill the position; however, the timing of the vesting was too late to fill the position for the 2016-2017 academic year. During the past two academic years, the Osmun chair has not been filled because the department had other personnel needs, including replacing professors who had retired or resigned, Cameron said.
"The department as a whole has a very large portfolio of activities that we needed to cover,” he said. “After a long period of [time] when we had no people retire, we went through a rapid series of retirements that created big holes in our teaching program. The urban group, as good as it is, covers its teaching well."
Cameron said there are no expected retirements forthcoming and that “the way is clear for the Osmun chair. The dean [Dr. Karen Plaut, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture at Purdue University] has given me assurances that we will be supported in this.”
Cameron said he is hopeful the university will begin searching for candidates in late 2019 with the goal of having filled the position in early summer 2020, in time for the 2020-2021 academic year.
While Cameron could not provide formal criteria for the position, he said it will cover the “full gamut of urban entomology,” including fumigants, mosquitoes, pesticide discovery, resistance management, behavioral methods, structural methods, engineering methods and more. He said candidates will need to be associate or full-time professors with a significant track record for leading strong research programs and having a strong record of engagement with the pest management industry.