Victor L. Lechtenberg

Victor L. Lechtenberg

Hall of Fame Class of 2018

From the time he began his service as dean of agriculture at Purdue University, Victor L. Lechtenberg was recognized as a visionary leader and fundraiser with a gift for creating regional, national, and international policies designed to transform lives through science, education, and technology.

Lechtenberg has earned national recognition as a master of advocacy, policy, and influence. He is frequently asked to consult with Congress, secretaries of agriculture, agency administrators, and staff in Health and Human Services, Departments of Labor, Commerce, and the National Science Foundation, and he has organized expert policy discussions and seminars in areas such as rural economic development, dimensions of workforce development, and land-grant university funding for extension and outreach. He is known as a conscientious bridge builder, a scholar, and a believer in establishing sustainable and well-supported innovations. 

Lechtenberg began his time at Purdue as a professor of agronomy before serving as dean of agriculture, interim vice president for government relations, vice provost for engagement, interim provost, and special assistant to the president. Through extension, outreach, continuing education, distance education, and online learning, Lechtenberg has worked tirelessly to lead initiatives designed to improve job opportunities and technology transfer. One of his most notable achievements includes founding the Purdue Center for Regional Development to connect interests within the web of regional economies. The center leads grant-funded initiatives and, in 2007, led a $15 million Department of Labor grant that provided job training to more than 16,000 workers. Of those workers, more than 3,600 were placed in new jobs in science, technology, engineering, or math fields.

As vice president of engagement, Lechtenberg has raised more than $52 million for a Department of Health and Human Services-funded Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center; expanded Purdue’s outreach to companies, businesses, and industry; managed a Department of Labor WIRED grant; established Purdue’s Center for Regional Development; launched a Woodrow Wilson Foundation grant to train STEM teachers; and secured private gifts to start Purdue’s University Technology Park and Education Center at New Albany, Indiana. His international assignments have included human and institutional capacity-building in Poland, Argentina, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Honduras, Israel, Jordan, Portugal, and other nations. As chair of the American Distance Education Board of Directors and collaborating with the Sloan Consortium, he has championed use of the internet to serve rural people and minority communities.

Lechtenberg has been an advocate for improving the quality of education for rural Hoosiers and integrating the research and extension missions of land-grant universities nationally. His work through research and extension has served crop producers, ranchers, agribusiness, families, 4-H youth, and underserved communities. He is included in the USDA Hall of Fame as a land-grant university champion and has led efforts with Congress to develop the programmatic framework and advocacy to secure federal funding for the Initiative for Future Food and Agricultural Systems. Through his accomplishments, he has become a well-known leader for bringing visibility and stature to engagement both nationally and internationally.