September 25-26, 2003
ITEM 120-2002-R0903 Authorization to Confer the Title of Professor Emeritus of Animal and Range Sciences upon Peter J. Burfening; Montana State University-Bozeman
THAT: Upon the occasion of the retirement of Peter J. Burfening from Montana State University, the Board of Regents wishes to express its appreciation for his service to the University, the Montana University System, and the people of the State of Montana.
EXPLANATION: Peter Burfening received his B.S. degree in Dairy Science from Colorado State University in 1964 and his M.S. degree in Animal Science and Ph.D. degree in Reproductive Physiology North Carolina State University in 1967 and 1968. He began his career at Montana State University as assistant professor of Animal Science in 1968. His excellence in teaching and research was rewarded by promotion to Associate Professor in 1973 and to full Professor in 1978. Throughout most of his career in the Department of Animal and Ranges Sciences, Dr. Burfening held a joint appointment 0.4 FTE in instruction and a 0.6 FTE research. In 1997 Dr. Burfening was appointed Interim Department Head, and in 1998 was selected as Department Head to lead the Department into the 21st century until his retirement from Montana State University in 2001.
Over his 33-year career at Montana State University, Dr. Burfening was responsible for developing and teaching five undergraduate courses that were and still remain integral to the undergraduate teaching program and mission of the Department of Animal and Range Sciences. It was his idea to implement a core course for undergraduates that was related to the problems associated with global food production (ARNR 201T, World Food), and he was instrumental in developing the senior capstone course that blended range and animal production principles for the preservation of the range resource and optimization of range animal production. He taught more than 2,500 students and advised more than 500 undergraduates, and was the Departmental Certifying Officer for B.S. degrees for over 20 years.
Dr. Burfening has made considerable contributions to knowledge in animal agriculture through independent research and interdisciplinary investigations with others in the fields of genetics and physiology. He is the principal author of 173 scientific articles, abstracts, and proceedings papers; and served as a mentor for 22 graduate students. He was the recipient of the 1982 Western Section American Society of Animal Science Young Scientist Award. During his career he was responsible for administering almost $3.5 million in research grants at Montana State University and through the USAID program of the USDA.
His research has provided many needed answers to questions in the area of genetics of reproduction. He has emphasized the importance of heredity and various environmental factors affecting maternal and reproductive traits and the interrelationships between heredity and environmental effects on bovine growth, dystocia and various measures of reproduction. His research has provided basic information from which to predict future reproductive performance from past performance, and for evaluating and ranking beef bulls for genetic merit for maternal traits.
He has achieved a leadership position in conducting research that has helped to clarify the dilemma regarding the dystocia-large birth weight problem confronting cattle breeders. His research has provided reliable estimates of heritability, genetic correlations between birth weight and calving ease, and the genetic correlations between genes transmitted directly for gestation length, birth weight and calving ease and genes whose effects on these traits are mediated through the maternal environment. He and his colleagues have already shown that a genetic antagonism exists between prenatal growth and dystocia.
Dr. Burfening has been effective in communicating the results of his scientific investigations to appropriate audiences through a variety of means.
He was and continues to be sought after as a speaker by industry groups because of the timeliness of his research and his effective ability to convey these results at the appropriate level for the respective audience. He was active member of the performance committee of the American Simmental Association has contributed to many of the progressive policies of that organization in the performance arena such as the publication of the first national sire summary. Other industry groups benefiting from his input have been the Montana Wool Growers Association, the Montana Beef Performance Association and the Beef Improvement Federation.
Dr. Burfening was recognized by undergraduate and graduate students alike as a stimulating teacher as evidenced by the fact that he has been recognized as one of the outstanding teachers in the College of Agriculture four times during his teaching career at MSU. He has served on innumerable national, regional, university, college, and departmental committees of all types related to teaching, research, and outreach missions of the University over his career.
Dr. Burfening has proven to be an excellent researcher, stimulating teacher, valued student advisor, administrator, and contributor to the animal industry. These attributes make him a worthy recipient of emeritus status at Montana State University.
For these contributions, the Board of Regents of Higher Education is pleased to confer upon Peter J. Burfening the rank of Professor Emeritus of Animal Science at Montana State University and wishes him well for many years in the future.