Purdue News

2005 Honorary Degree

Nels J. Ackerson
Doctor Of Agriculture

Nels J. Ackerson
Nels Ackerson has distinguished himself with exceptional legal accomplishments that will have lasting impacts on landowner and constitutional rights.

His law firm in Washington, D.C., has a nationwide practice focused on complex litigation and class actions. He has represented thousands of farmers, ranchers and others in property rights class actions, eminent domain and governmental takings cases covering all 48 contiguous states.

A champion of individual rights and economic opportunity, Ackerson has tried cases and argued appeals in federal and state courts across the United States and before international tribunals, including landmark cases in federal takings law, class action law, real estate law, farm credit law and federal regulatory law.

Raised on a dairy farm near Westfield, Ind., Ackerson came to Purdue and was national president of the Future Farmers of America, student body president, president of FarmHouse Fraternity and a member of the Varsity Glee Club before earning his bachelor of science degree in 1967. He then enrolled at Harvard University, earning his master's in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government and his juris doctor cum laude from Harvard Law School.

He practiced law in Indiana for 11 years, opened and managed a law office in Egypt and gained international experience in 16 other countries between 1982 and 1991, when he founded his own firm, The Ackerson Group, now named Ackerson Kauffman Fex, PC.

A former senior staff member of the United States Senate and a congressional candidate, Ackerson is often involved in legislation and has written laws to encourage ethanol fuels, protect university and small business patent rights, and protect property rights.

He was a member of the Dean’s Advisory Counsel for Purdue’s School of Liberal Arts (1997-2001), participated as an Old Master (2001), and was honored as a School of Agriculture Distinguished Alumnus (2002).

Ackerson is a member of the bars of Indiana, the District of Columbia and the United States Supreme Court. He and his wife, Sharon, live in Potomac, Md., and, jointly with Mr. Ackerson’s sister, own the Ackerson Family Farm in Westfield, Ind.