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K-State Today

October 28, 2021

Agricultural economics honors two distinguished alumni

Submitted by Mary Bowen

The agricultural economics department presented the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award to Christine Wilson and the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award to Congressman Tracey Mann. The award is given annually to an alumnus who has demonstrated significant professional achievement related to agricultural economics or agribusiness.

For the past 20 years, Wilson's commitment to students and teaching has never wavered. Today, Wilson leads the office of academic programs as an associate dean in the College of Agriculture at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. 

Raised on a farm in southwestern Kansas, Wilson earned her bachelor's in agribusiness, her master's and doctorate in agricultural economics from K-State. She began her career in industry, working as a grain market analyst for Koch Industries. She then returned to the university setting as an extension economist for K-State, focusing on farm management and land use value appraisal.

"I am very honored to be selected as a distinguished alum of the agricultural economics department," Wilson said. "The department has had many successful alumni throughout the years, so it was unexpected. It is a tremendous honor. K-State's ag econ department has definitely had a significant impact on my career both academically and professionally."

In 2001, Wilson joined the faculty at Purdue University teaching a variety of agricultural economics courses and conducting research in the agricultural finance, agribusiness and farm management areas. She returned to K-State to serve as assistant dean for academic programs for student services and retention in the College of Agriculture in 2008 and rejoined the faculty in the agricultural economics department as professor and director of undergraduate programs in 2015. She began as associate dean and director of academic programs for Purdue University's College of Agriculture in 2020.

Responsible for undergraduate academic programs, Wilson enjoys the challenge of providing students with opportunities and giving them a transformational experience in and out of the classroom at Purdue.

"As part of leadership in the College of Agriculture, I am responsible for the vision of academic programs," Wilson said. "We work to support our students, help them grow academically and professionally, and be successful in their chosen careers,"

Wilson has received recognition for her excellence in teaching and advising, including the David Mugler Outstanding Teaching Award from the Kansas State Ag Alumni Association, the K-State Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Distinguished Teaching Award More Than 10 Years' Experience. She also received the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award from Purdue University and the Richard L. Kohl's Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award from Purdue's College of Agriculture.

She and her husband, Eric Coates, have two sons, Christopher and Evan.

Mann is a fifth-generation Kansan, who was born and raised on his family farm just south of Quinter. He is also the fifth generation to live in the family farmhouse that his great-great-grandfather ordered from the Montgomery Ward catalog in the early 1900s.

Growing up in production agriculture, Mann learned the value of hard work at a young age as he spent thousands of hours in the fields and on the family feed yard. Some of his fondest memories of those days were working cattle with his grandfather, father and brother on Saturday afternoons while listening to K-State football on the radio.

He earned his bachelor's degree from K-State in agricultural economics in 2000, serving in Student Senate and as student body president during his time on campus.

"I still use the lessons learned in Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh's ag policy class every day," Mann said about his time at K-State. "I was shocked when Dr. Allen Featherstone called about receiving the Distinguished Alum Award. I am very honored and grateful for the education I received at K-State."

Mann was elected to the 117th Congress as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and serves the "Big First" District of Kansas. He is a tireless advocate for Kansas agriculture and conservative Kansas values.

"I decided to run for the U.S. Congress because I was concerned about the direction the country was going," Mann said. "I could either complain and be angry, or I could run for office and do something about it. I love serving Kansans and advocating for agriculture."

Mann serves on the House Agriculture and House Veterans Affairs Committees.

Before being elected to Congress, Mann served as the 50th lieutenant governor of Kansas. He also has worked in commercial real estate for the last 20 years. He has served on several boards for Kansas organizations, including Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, The City Teen Center in Salina and Legacy Financial.

Mann and his wife, Audrey, live in Salina with their four children.

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