Last fall, Huntington University launched a major in agricultural studies. It promotes a Christian perspective on agriculture, recognizing a responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation and to examine questions of sustainability and justice. The institute will admit its first students in the fall of 2015.
Now the program has a name: the Haupert Institute for Agricultural Studies.
The Institute was named in honor of Dale and Elaine Haupert, who have a long history with farming, Huntington University, and the United Brethren Church. The Hauperts attend Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Huntington University’s plan to start an agriculture program resonated with the Hauperts, whose involvement in farming has spanned 52 years. Their family farm in South Whitley began as a 40-acre operation and grew to 2,800 acres. Dale also grew up on a farm.
The Hauperts gave the lead gift that launched the Institute. Additionally, Dale serves as a charter member of the university’s Agriculture Task Force, and Elaine has hosted fundraising events for the institute in their home. Dale also has been a member of HU’s Board of Trustees for 26 years, so it’s a perfect blend of two long-time passions–farming, and Huntington University.
“The Hauperts are known as a farming family in this community, and they are highly respected in the agriculture community statewide,” said Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, president of Huntington University. “Dale’s persistence in making contacts and being the chief cheerleader for the agriculture initiative have been a key to the success of the program.”
Dale and Elaine decided to contribute their time and resources to Huntington University’s new program after having conversations with young people interested in pursuing careers in agriculture.
“Many of them are interested in agriculture but don’t want to go to a big university,” Elaine said. “They see the advantage of being at a smaller school, and it’s exciting to see how many are responding to being in an atmosphere like Huntington University. It’s so important that they’re in a Christian environment.”
The Hauperts were surprised when Dr. Emberton told them the institute would be named after them.
“We didn’t do this for recognition,” Elaine said. “The more the Lord gives you, the more He requires. We believe it’s not what you take with you that has significance. It’s what you leave behind.”
“It floored me,” Dale said. “I didn’t expect anything. I just wanted to do something to support the program.”
For Dale, the opportunity to become involved with the institute came at a serendipitous time. Just hours before he was approached about supporting HU’s agriculture program, he had read Jeremiah 29:11 after wondering if, at age 81, he could still make an impact. The verse says, “‘For I know the plans for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Like his wife, Dale was stunned that their step of faith resulted in an acknowledgement.
“We feel very humbled by this recognition,” Elaine said. “We’ve been involved with HU for the past 28 years because we believe in the mission. Agriculture has been an important part of our lives and is an important part of the economy. To offer this program in a Christian atmosphere is so exciting. This will give students more opportunities, especially those who have a passion for agriculture. God has blessed us more than we deserve, and anything we can do to help young people is a blessing. We have seen so many young people who have been impacted by HU and who go out and impact the world for Christ.”
Launched in the fall of 2014, HU’s Haupert Institute for Agricultural Studies promotes a Christian perspective on agriculture, which recognizes a responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation and to examine questions of sustainability and justice. The institute will admit its first students in the fall of 2015.
To learn more, go to huntington.edu/agriculture.