The man whose leadership has shaped the course of Texas agriculture over the past 37 years has announced a new route for the coming year.

Edward A. Hiler will retire, effective Aug. 31, 2004, to pursue other professional interests and to spend more time with his family and in community service.

Hiler heads The Texas A&M University System Agriculture Program, which encompasses the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas Forest Service, Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, and agricultural colleges at five system universities. He also is dean of agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M University.

“I'm pleased with the progress we have made and the current positive stature and momentum of the Agriculture Program,” Hiler said in his announcement Friday to faculty and staff.

Among his successes is Agriculture Program 21, a visionary and goal-setting process in which faculty, staff and administrators of the college, Experiment Station and Extension plus 50 external leaders embarked on a year-long effort to envision the future needs for education and research.

“We studied changes under way in science, technology, education and human affairs, and deliberated about the challenges ahead,” he recalled.

The Agriculture Program 21 effort, which yielded goals to be met in upcoming years, was a collective commitment to “making a difference for Texans and the world,” Hiler said.

Texas A&M in 1966

Hiler came to Texas A&M in 1966 as assistant professor after completing bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in agricultural engineering from Ohio State University. His research on water issues quickly was recognized in Texas which vacillates between drought and flood — often in the same year.

He looks at agricultural engineering broadly — once saying “we are engineers specializing in optimizing environments for plant and animal growth and production while maintaining and improving the environment for people.”

After eight years as a teacher and researcher, Hiler began his administrative leadership as head of the agricultural engineering department in 1974. For the Texas A&M University System, he became deputy chancellor for academic and research programs in 1989 and was interim chancellor in 1991 prior to being selected to his current position in 1992.

His career accomplishments have netted numerous honors and awards including membership in the National Academy of Engineering, Distinguished Alumnus of The Ohio State University, and presidency of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers in 1991-92 and the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists in 1999.

He was presented the Texas A&M Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award in 1973, the ASAE Young Researcher Award in 1977 and the John Deere Gold Medal in 1991. Hiler has served as consultant to the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment and the U.S. Department of Interior's Office of Water Research and Technology. He currently serves on the board of CNH Global, the world's largest manufacturer of agricultural equipment.