University honors McFarland with achievement award

by Robin Huiras

A ceremony filled with awards, applause, standing ovations and tears honored Keith McFarland Tuesday, representing the contributions and service he has given to the University for more than 50 years.
“Professor McFarland exerted vital leadership on countless University committees where his good judgement, strategic sense and erratic spirit have served this institution very well,” said Robert Bruininks, executive vice president and provost.
The Outstanding Achievement Award is granted to alumni the University holds in high esteem. Available to any University graduate, it is the highest award an alumnus can receive. Individuals who have attained exceptional distinction in their professions are eligible to win the award.
“Whenever the University needs someone to clean up, they call on Keith McFarland,” said Mary Ellen Gee, associate to the dean of General College.
McFarland’s contributions to the University are far-ranging.
“He did an excellent job of pulling various threads and components of the University together,” Gee said.
Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry in 1942 set the stage for McFarland’s return to instruct at the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics in 1946.
While teaching at the University, McFarland attained his master’s and doctorate degree, respectively, in education psychology and education.
A rapid progression in his profession positioned McFarland in 1960 as the assistant dean of the Institute of Agriculture and director of resident instruction. The three schools split in 1970, and McFarland became dean of the College of Home Economics.
McFarland acted as dean of General College from 1987 until he retired in 1989, at the age of 66. A year later, however, the University called upon McFarland again to become chancellor of the Waseca campus as it was closing.
McFarland said at the ceremony of his tenure, “I never could get away.” He currently serves as the president of the board of directors of the Campus Club and president of the University’s Retirees Association.
Nominated by the schools of human ecology and agriculture for the award, McFarland’s nomination before the All-University Honors Committee was not a surprise, said Wilbert Ahern, chair committee.
“McFarland is the sort of person you pick if you have a job to do and want it done well,” Ahern said.
Bruininks said McFarland represented the University at its best in every way, and a better representative of the University would be difficult to find.