PULLMAN, Wash. — Rupert Grant Seals, who gained distinction as the fifth African American to earn a Ph.D. at Washington State University when he graduated in 1960, received two WSU awards April 12. He was presented the WSU Alumni Achievement Award and also named Distinguished Graduate: Science, Education and Technology” for 2003 at the Department of Animal Sciences recognition banquet.
The Reno, Nev., resident spent most of his professional career in higher education. He was professor and dean of the School of Agriculture and Home Economics at Florida A & M University from 1969-74. He returned to A& M in 1989, where he directed International Programs for five years. Then he spent three more years on the faculty, first working on a strategic plan for the university, and then teaching biochemistry until he retired in 1998. He was associate dean of the College of Agriculture and professor of animal nutrition at the University of Nevada from 1976-87. Seals was coordinator of special research program for the USDA Cooperative State Research Service in Washington, D.C., from 1974-76.
The Shelbyville, Ky., native received a B.S. degree in dairy production at Florida A & M, 1953, and a M.S. in dairy technology at the University of Kentucky, 1956, before coming to WSU.
Seals has many publications to his credit. His book, “Disparity: An analysis of the Historical, Political, and Funding Factors at the State Level Affecting Black Academic Agriculture,” was published in 1998. The book details some of the early politics accompanying the designation of both the predominantly white and predominantly black land-grant public schools in the 17 southern states. The Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 enabled both types of institutions. He notes, however, that the Hatch-George Act of 1887 and the Smith-Lever Agricultural Extension Act of 1914 form the real basis of land-grant agriculture since they provide research and development for rural economic development. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the federal government stepped in with separate legislation to support land-grant historic black colleges and universities, he said.
While in Pullman recently, he and his wife, Georgetta, toured the campus with faculty members, and met with students. It was their first visit back to Pullman since attending the 1973 national convention of the American Dairy Association here.