Richard T. Crowder, former United States chief agricultural trade negotiator and professor of agricultural and applied economics at Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will receive the Graduate Alumni Achievement Award at this year's Graduate Commencement to be held on Friday, May 14 at 2:30 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum.
The Graduate Alumni Achievement Award was established by the Graduate School and the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in 2003 and is awarded annually to recognize the outstanding national and/or international achievement and exemplary contribution to profession, discipline, community, or society of a graduate alumnus.
“It is a unique honor to confer this award on Dr. Crowder who is not only an outstanding professional and scholar, but a current member of our faculty. We are privileged to have his expertise on campus,” said Karen P. DePauw, vice president and dean of graduate education.
Crowder’s career as a corporate leader and public servant to agricultural industries across the globe has spanned more than 40 years.
He served in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President, as chief agricultural negotiator, with the rank of ambassador. In this position, he was responsible for directing all U.S. agricultural negotiations worldwide. For this service, he was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by the United States Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President.
He began his professional career as a staff economist for Exxon, and then held a number of executive positions with Wilson & Company, the Pillsbury Company, Armour Swift-Eckrich, and DEKALB Genetics.
In 1989, Crowder became Under Secretary of International Affairs and Commodity Programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this position, he headed two presidential missions to the former Soviet Union to address food needs and policies of the former Soviet republics. He also received two other presidential appointments — serving on the board of directors of the Commodity Credit Corporation and the Rural Telephone Bank.
In 2002, he was named chief executive officer of the American Seed Trade Association.
Crowder worked with other alumni in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics to create a scholarship to honor his mentor, Professor W.L “Hoot” Gibson Jr., which provides five scholarships a year. He also endowed the George T. and Estelle M. Crowder Scholarship in memory of his parents.
He received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Virginia Tech and his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University He is one of 100 alumni selected as a Virginia Tech Alumnus of the Millennium 2000.