sealPurdue News

November 15, 2002

Former School of Agriculture dean remembered for contributions

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Former dean of the Purdue University School of Agriculture, Bernard J. "Bernie" Liska, helped start a new department and strengthened basic sciences while he headed the school from 1980 to 1985. He died Monday (11/11) in Houston at age 71 after being in failing health for some time.

Bernard J. "Bernie" Liska

He was born May 31, 1931, in Hillsboro, Wis., and earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in food science at the University of Wisconsin. Aside from a short stint as assistant professor of dairy science at the University of Florida, Liska, of Nineveh, Ind., spent almost his entire career at Purdue.

"One of his contributions, if not the greatest, was to strengthen the overall science component of agriculture at Purdue," said Bill Baumgardt, former colleague and professor emeritus of animal sciences. "Liska recognized the tremendous explosion of knowledge occurring at that time and focused on underpinning basic sciences in agriculture."

Liska joined the Purdue faculty in 1959 as an assistant professor of food science. He was named director of the newly formed Food Science Institute in 1968 and became director of the Agriculture Experiment Station in 1975.

While dean, Liska promoted the creation of the Department of Food Science in 1983.

"Liska was a visionary leader," said Victor Lechtenberg, current dean of Purdue agriculture. "He helped identify high priority programs and focus resources in key areas. He helped the School of Agriculture prepare for a rapidly changing future."

After serving as dean, Liska moved to the food science department and retired in 1997. He was also named a professor emeritus of food science.

During his career he served on the Purdue University Senate and was active in numerous organizations including the Environmental Health Institute, Agricultural Research Institute, American Dairy Science Association and American Dietetic Association.

In 1983 Liska was elected president of the Institute of Food Technologists, a professional organization for the international food science community. In 2001, he received the Outstanding Food Science Award from Purdue.

Liska is survived by his wife, Donna, who now resides in Houston; two daughters, Cheryl Coleman, of Houston, and Julie Esperson, of Minneapolis, Minn.; and six grandchildren.

A memorial mass is planned for 10 a.m. on Dec. 9 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in West Lafayette, Ind.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the B.J. Liska Memorial Fund, established to support graduate programs in food science. Checks, made payable to the Purdue Foundation, should be sent to: Purdue Memorial Union, Room B-50, PMU, 101 N. Grant St., West Lafayette, IN 47906.

Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-2722,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes,;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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