Outstanding educator, President of Kansas State University, President of the (now) Wichita State University, 9th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Ambassador to Egypt and the 24th Treasurer of Kansas.
1879-1955 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)
Impact & Accomplishments
The first Kansan to be appointed to a national cabinet level position was William M. Jardine, Secretary of Agriculture under President Calvin Coolidge from 1925-1929.
Jardine was born on an Idaho ranch, and as a youth, gained experience driving cattle in Montana. With limited formal education and financial resources, his first term at college was interrupted, but he finally completed his bachelor’s degree at Utah Agricultural College in 1904.
He earned a graduate degree at the University of Illinois and accepted a position teaching agronomy at his alma mater in Utah. Jardine was interested in large scale production, and he worked with the Utah Arid Farming Company and the Northern Pure Seed Company to test the practicality of farming dry land with the big machinery that was new to the market.
From 1906 to 1910, he worked as Assistant United States Cerealist for the USDA, dividing his time between national fieldwork and the Washington office. There, he established substations in several states, to conduct dry-land grain investigations. In 1910, Jardine became the agronomist at Kansas State Agricultural College, rising to dean and director of the agriculture experiment station three years later. Dean Jardine remained at the forefront of the dry-farming movement and was elected president of the American Society of Agronomy in 1916.
In 1918, Dean Jardine was named president of Kansas State, serving until 1925, when Coolidge tapped him to be his Secretary of Agriculture. Although the economy was bleak during his four-year term, Secretary Jardine proved to be a competent administrator, fighting against government price fixing for surplus crops and commodities and leading the farm cooperative movement.
Fellow Saddle & Sirloin honoree, Arthur Hyde, followed him as agriculture secretary. When Herbert Hoover succeeded Coolidge, William Jardine was named Ambassador to Egypt, from 1930 to 1933.
Back in Kansas, he served briefly as Kansas State Treasurer, to help the state recover from the Finney Bond Scandal. In 1934, Jardine became president of the Municipal University of Wichita, retiring in 1949.