Entomology was a discipline area in the very beginning of the state's land-grant university, and in many ways the department reflects the changing focus and maturity of the university. Several well-known entomologists have studied in the department and contributed to its practical and conceptual foundation, including C. W. Woodworth, W. J. Baerg, Dwight Isely, H. H. Schwardt, W. R. Horsfall, and Charles G. Lincoln.
Arkansas Industrial University opened on January 23, 1872. Professor Richard Thurston, M.D., stated in the 1873 Catalog of Studies "to effectively control insects there is required a knowledge of entomology". Entomology was listed in the Catalog of Studies for the second term of the student's third year during the early years of the university. The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station was established in 1888. S. W. Crossman was the first trained entomologist and published the third bulletin of the Experiment Station on "The Peach Tree Borer and the Codling Moth" -- the first experiment station bulletin the U.S. published with Hatch funds.
Dr. L. O. Warren, Emeritus Professor of Entomology and past Director of the Experiment Station, located this picture post card of the U of A campus (above), taken in 1908. Notice the small red building to the left, this was the first Entomology facility on campus. Entomology classes and labs were held in this building when the department was in its infancy. Later, around 1935, the building housed the Vocational Education Department and Dr. Warren attended FFA classes here. The building to the right was at first the Agriculture Building, and then became the Home Economics Building. The building later became the infirmary for the campus and after that housed the department of Agriculture Engineering. The building is now known as the Agriculture Annex and houses the Agriculture computer lab, Agriculture statistics lab and graduate student offices. The annex building is located directly North of the present Agriculture Building. The position of the camera appears to be at the NE corner of Mullins Library, looking North toward Maple Street. Of course, none of these mentioned buildings existed at the time of this picture. Notice the wagon ruts in the small road going North to Maple Street. Only two of the oak trees pictured in the south lawn of the Agriculture Annex building remain today.
The College of Agriculture was established in 1905, with the former commissioner of agriculture, W. G. Vincenheller, appointed dean. State appropriations of $35,500 and federal funds of $42,000 allowed the University of Arkansas to build the first Agriculture Building and the Dairy Building. The new college included seven departments: Agricultural Chemistry, Agronomy, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Husbandry, Entomology, Horticulture and Veterinary Science. The total college faculty included two professors and six instructors. Charles F. Adams, an entomologist and the first Head of the Department of Entomology, became dean and director in 1908.
He retained leadership of the department until 1914, when George Becker became head of a one-man department. Becker was instrumental in developing and organizing the Arkansas State Plant Board. Courses taught in 1914-1915 included general entomology, economic entomology, morphology and systematics.
Much of the academic foundation of the Department was established during the tenure of W. J. Baerg, a naturalist and authority on spiders and birds, who served as department head from 1918 until 1951. During his tenure, departmental philosophy was forged, largely on the teachings of Dwight Isely, considered by many to be the father of integrated pest management. Isely's methods of analyzing insect problems and integrating natural and biological suppressions (indirect controls), deploying insecticides (direct controls) only when needed, still dominate departmental philosophy of applied entomology and research priorities. The first recognized cotton scout anywhere was James Horsfall, a student working with Isely in the 1920s.During Baerg's time, the department evolved from a two-man department to a graduate-degree-granting entity. Floyd Miner was hired in 1942, primarily responsible for classroom instruction. Extension entomology was formalized with the hire in 1942 of Charles Lincoln as the first extension entomologist. Previously, extension was considered part of every entomologist's responsibility and most activity was focused on helping Arkansans with insect problems.
Major expansion began in the 1950s when Charles Lincoln became Head. The graduate program was initiated in 1951 and the department added faculty and expertise in the areas of entomology linked to Isely's ideas of ecological pest management. The department experienced significant growth in student numbers as veterans returned from WWII to complete degrees. Isely's ideas of pest management were not in step with growing use of organic insecticides in the 1950s.Lincoln's strong will and linkages to Arkansas farmers allowed the department to withstand significant criticism and further expand the departmental vision. Faculty added in the late 1940s and 1950s included W. D. Wylie, L. O. Warren, Fred Whitehead, Larry Rolston, J. L. Lancaster, Jack Sherrer, Tom Leigh, W. P. Boles, Will Whitcomb, Robert Hunter, and Paul Boyer. The commitment to more-basic research increased in the 1960s with the hires of C. E. McCoy, Jacob R. Phillips, W. C. Yearian, Rodney Kirkton, R. T. Allen, S. Y. Young, III, and N. P. Tugwell.
The Ph.D program was initiated in 1972, and Gary Herzog was the first Ph.D graduate in 1976. The department was integrally linked with the "Huffaker" and "CIPM" projects and provided leadership for national research efforts in cotton and soybean pest management. Faculty hired in the 1960s provided leadership for Arkansas' involvement in these national IPM programs. Max Meisch joined the department in 1970, initially in a joint research-extension appointment for rice-field mosquitoes. Bill Jones addressed extension entomology programs from the Fayetteville campus. Art Mueller assumed responsibilities for soybean entomology in 1972. Capacity in quantitative ecology was added when Fred Stephen arrived in 1974 to fill the forest entomology position vacated when Lloyd Warren became director of the Experiment Station. Mark Mayse filled the position of survey entomologist. Donald Johnson assumed extension responsibilities in 1979. Gerald Musick replaced Floyd Miner as department head in 1979.
In the 1980s, Donn Johnson, Paul McLeod and Tim Kring joined the department, bringing expertise in insect behavior, vegetable entomology and biological control, respectively. Dayton Steelman returned to a research program in livestock entomology. John Bernhardt and Tina Gray Teague accepted research positions in Stuttgart and Jonesboro, respectively, in the late-1980s. Musick became Dean and Director in 1986, and J. R. Phillips and W. C. Yearian served as interim Department Heads in 1987 and 1988, respectively. David Foster was hired as Head in 1987 and served one year in that capacity until he moved to Little Rock as Director of the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.
William C. Yearian served as Department Head from 1989 to 2001. The department experienced significant expansion of academic capacity in the early 1990s. Don Steinkraus and Gary Felton (1990), and Jim Whitfield (1992), added nationally respected capacity in insect pathology, insect-plant interactions, and molecular systematics. Gerald Musick returned to the department as a teacher and researcher in the mid 1990s and worked to establish a B.S. program in Pest Management. During the 1990s, several changes were also made in extension and off-campus positions. Gus Lorenz became IPM Coordinator for the Pest Management Section of the Cooperative Extension Service, and Glenn Studebaker and Charles Allen filled off-campus extension positions in Southeast and Northeast Arkansas.
The early 2000s were again a time of transition. Gary Felton left the department to become Department Head at Penn State, and Jim Whitfield moved to the University of Illinois. With Yearian's retirement, Fred Stephen was interim head from 2002-2005. Jeff Barnes became curator of the Entomological Museum in 2000 and instructor for insect systematics. Randy Luttrell joined the department in 2001 after a period as Associate Dean of the College. Allen Szalanski and Fiona Goggin (2001) brought expertise in genetics and insect-plant interactions. John Hopkins and Kelly Loftin were appointed as extension specialists. Donald R. Johnson retired as Extension Section Leader; Gus Lorenz assumed leadership of extension entomology, and is currently Associate Department Head for extension programs. Jeremy Greene filled the Monticello position when R.T. Allen left in 2000. Greene later returned home to a position with Clemson University. Scott Akin replaced Jeremy Green as Assistant Professor, Extension Entomologist in Monticello. Ashley P.G. Dowling, Assistant Professor arrived in the dept. in 2008. His expertise is in Acarology/Molecular Systematics. Tanja Mckay, Asst. Professor and Tina Teague, Professor, Extension Entomologists work at ASU. Extension faculty were moved under the Department's umbrella in 2003. Dayton Steelman and Max Meisch both retired in 2010. Randy Luttrell is currently the Program Leader in Stoneville, MS.
Robert N. Wiedenmann, now a Professor in the Department, formerly of the Illinois Natural History Survey, was Head of the Department from early 2005-2014. He was the first department head to have statewide responsibilities for all entomology programs of the Division of Agriculture, including those of the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. The Department currently includes 7 on-campus and 6 off-campus faculty members, 12 staff members and 17 graduate students.