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2007 Honorary Degree

Lawrence Beck
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Lawrence Beck has distinguished himself as a businessman and a philanthropist while building Beck's Superior Hybrids into the largest family-owned, independent retail seed company in the United States.

Born in Noblesville, Ind., and raised near Atlanta, Ind., Beck came to Purdue in the late 1950s and earned two degrees, his bachelor's in agronomy in 1962 and his master's in agricultural economics in 1964. While at Purdue, he was a founding member of the Farmhouse Fraternity Foundation and won the prestigious G.A. Ross Award as the outstanding senior man in 1962.

He took over the family business, founded by his father, Francis, and his grandfather, and transformed it from a small regional corn seed company in the 1960s, serving only farmers in counties surrounding his facility, to a multi-state corporation providing farms throughout the eastern Corn Belt with high-quality corn, soybean and wheat seed.

Through the leadership of Lawrence (better known as Sonny), Beck's Superior Hybrids has aggressively sought to serve the customer with the highest-quality products and with educational services through its Practical Farm Research demonstrations. Beck's has become an industry leader in developing new technologies in seed conditioning.

Mr. Beck has been selected to serve on numerous boards, councils and associations within the industry and is a charter member of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture Advisory Board.

He has also been very active in his community as president of the Hamilton Heights School Board, Emanuel Lutheran Church Council and, most recently, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Hamilton County Legacy Fund Community Foundation.

His dedication and generosity toward Purdue has been impressive. Under Sonny?s leadership, the family established The Beck Foundation to honor his father and mother. The foundation provides significant scholarships to three agronomy students each year.  Sonny, his wife, and three children and their spouses have recently funded a major portion of a new education and research facility at Purdue, the Beck Education Center, which is being constructed this year.

Sonny Beck was recognized by Purdue as a Distinguished Agricultural Alumni Award winner in 1992.

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