Beloved agriculture economics professor David Schweikhardt dies
posted on June 6, 2017 9:23am
David B. Schweikardt
David B. Schweikhardt, professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (AFRE), was found dead in his home last week. No cause of death has been identified.
“David was an indispensable, well-loved and greatly admired member of AFRE faculty since 1992,” said Titus O. Awokuse, department chair. “His passing is a great loss to AFRE and MSU. He was a true servant-leader over the years. He gave selflessly of his skills and time and served in various capacities to support and promote our department and university.”
Dr. Schweikardt was a leading expert in agricultural policy and institutional economics and has served as a great intellectual resource on various policy issues to colleagues at MSU and many across the state of Michigan and beyond. His research and extension work has focused on agricultural and trade policy, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Affordable Care Act, and all U.S. farm bills since 1990.
A native of Indiana, he received a Bachelor of Science degree with Highest Distinction in agricultural economics from Purdue University in 1980, a Master of Science in agricultural economics from Michigan State University in 1983, and a PhD in agricultural economics from Michigan State in 1989. He received a law degree from Michigan State in 2004 and was a member of the State Bar of Michigan.
A funeral service will be held to celebrate his life on Saturday, June 10, 2017 at the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home, 1730 E Grand River Avenue, East Lansing, MI at 2 p.m. Visitation begins at 1 p.m.
Memories of a Colleague & Friend
I believe Dave was AFRE‘s first representative on the College T&P committee, which was new in the early-to-mid 2000s. He spent an extraordinary amount of time helping all of us who were submitting a package for reappointment, tenure or promotion at that time. His feedback was extremely valuable, especially because the examples provided by the college were not very good (or at least not very applicable to AFRE), and we had very little to go on other than Dave’s feedback based on his committee experiences. Dave was perhaps the only one who understood how members of our department needed to craft the reflective essay. I believe all faculty who came after my cohort have continued to benefit from his expertise, either directly or indirectly by reviewing the many T&P packages that stemmed from his help.
I’m very sorry to learn of Dave’s passing. Although I haven’t been here long, I would cross paths with Dave occasionally and always enjoyed the interaction. He was a very knowledgeable and passionate person. I owe Dave much, as it was he who encouraged me to consider the Product Center director’s position and nominated me for it. I hope his family can find some solace in knowing that he was a fine man who will be greatly missed by so many of us.
Thomas S. Lyons, Ph.D.
Professor of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics and
Director, MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Michigan State University
I did not get to know Dave very well as I joined the AFRE family only two years ago. However, his devotion, intelligence, and wisdom left deep impressions on me through the limited opportunities that I had to interact with him. I was on the undergraduate committee of AFRE’s recent strategic planning that Dave chaired. At the very beginning, he prepared a careful plan for the committee and suggested specific tasks that needed to be accomplished. To gather data, Dave spearheaded the design, implementation, and analyses of separate surveys of undergraduate instructors, all current faculty, alumni, stakeholders, and peer departments at other institutions. He used most recent research findings regarding undergraduate education to help us identify important issues that were relevant to AFRE and come up with practical recommendations. Through these interactions, I saw in Dave a role model for excellence, devotion, and citizenship. He will be greatly missed!
Our offices in Ag. Hall were only a few doors apart and so we would often bump into each other when entering or leaving our offices. We had common interests in U.S. production agriculture and policy, and I took some of these meetings as opportunities to learn more about a policy or market that I thought he might know about. He had a very deep knowledge base, one that others less unassuming would have been keen to display. Also he always had, or made, the time to talk and inform. MSU was very fortunate to have had his services and he will be missed.
There are many wonderful things one could say about Dave. I was fortunate to have him as a colleague and friend for many years. I am also fortunate to be able to read the various comments about Dave that others have been submitting – these are very humbling and revealing about his many talents and dimensions . He always had time to visit or to answer a question I would send his way. For the last few years before I retired our offices were nearby, and we frequently conversed after hours over policy issues. He also often asked about my health as I was going through my treatments. When I was working on composing the Emeritus Faculty Profiles for Vern Sorenson and Jim Bonnen, Dave gave me a lot of help, especially on the Bonnen profile. So for me it is only fitting, yet with a heavy heart, that I have updated Dave’s AFRE faculty profile at http://www.afre.msu.edu/people/schweikhardt If friends and colleagues have time, it is a wonderful tribute to his skills as a policy analyst and to his memory, to listen and view the video and oral files posted to the “Presentations” tab on his profile.
Dave was a student in my graduate course on marketing at MSU, singled out because he had an undergraduate degree from Purdue as I did and came from near my Indiana home just a county away. I was chair of the committee which recommended that he should be hired. Dave and I have always been very close often talking about our Indiana roots. He knew my cousins in his county and they knew him and his relatives, so we often talked about those connections. A couple of months ago, when I encountered Dave in Justin Morrill Hall, I was honored that he suggested that we go together to the AAEA meeting in Chicago in late July and early August on the train. I readily accepted. I am weeping about this loss as a colleague, friend and the years he had left to add to our profession.
Dave today we gathered and met to celebrate your life and all that you GAVE and I truly mean gave. I was one of the many lucky ones that got to share your life, wisdom, knowledge, humor, compassion and kindness. As I reflect back on the many discussions, conversations and debates, the one recurring theme that I have come to realize is it was NEVER about Dave. Yes there were all of the lessons on economics, policy and trade that many have spoken about, but I will remember you not as a great scholar, lawyer, educator, but as a great person and human being; unselfish giving individual, compassionate, caring, dedicated, humble and a kind true gentleman. Now as I think back to the 100’s, maybe 1000’s of discussions we had in my office, your office, the hallway and yes Peanut Barrel about class, education, students, work, life, family, sports, you always had the “Dave way” of bring light to the situation, moment in time or task at hand. Your time on earth was cut short, your impact great, and never will be forgotten. When upon tough times, my time spent with you and memories will bring me to the “What Would Dave Do” moments and I will let them guide me to clear and more thoughtful solution. Heaven has gained a compassionate, caring, dedicated, giving, scholar, lawyer, educator and truly a great man – Dave. You will be missed, but never forgotten my great friend.