An open house honoring Leslie Backer, chair of agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Cathy Backer, executive assistant to the president, is scheduled for Monday, June 28, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the NDSU president's house. Leslie and Cathy will retire June 30. Leslie has spent 34-years at NDSU. Cathy worked at NDSU from 1967-69 and returned in 1982.
Leslie has been associated with NDSU for much of the past 46 years, beginning as an undergraduate student in 1964. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering in 1969 and earned a Master of Science degree from NDSU in 1971. He returned to NDSU as assistant professor in 1976.
Cathy worked as secretary for the Department of Agricultural Engineering from 1967-69. She was a scheduling coordinator for the Memorial Union from 1982-92 and became executive assistant to the president in 1992.
Leslie has conducted and supervised research in the areas of crop storage and conditioning, site-specific sugarbeet yield monitoring, vegetable oil processing for biofuels, tractor performance and usage monitoring, and crop sprayer efficiency. His early work resulted in the current practice used by American Crystal Sugar Co. in ventilating and freezing sugarbeets to extend the processing time in the Red River Valley.
Although his primary appointment was with the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station, Leslie had heavy teaching, advising and recruitment responsibilities. He developed five new courses in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and Agricultural Systems Management programs. He typically taught 14-17 credits per year and advised 30-50 undergraduate students in these programs each semester in addition to graduate students. He earned College of Engineering and Architecture and College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources awards for teaching excellence and the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources Advising Award.
He served as interim chair of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering from 1990-91, was named interim chair in 2003 and chair in 2004. During his tenure as chair, faculty numbers increased from eight to 14. Undergraduate enrollment in the Agricultural Systems Management program increased from about 40 to near 80 and in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering program from about 60 to 100. Graduate student numbers have about doubled.
Letters of congratulations for a retirement book may be brought to the reception or sent to Lori Sholts at firstname.lastname@example.org or Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, room 100.