Marvin W. Phillips was known for his enthusiasm, positive approach, fairness and dedication to those with whom he worked and his ability to create and maintain a collegial and supportive environment for scholarly work.
Under the guidance of Dr. Phillips from 1971-91, the agronomy department added multi-media resource centers for crops and soil courses, teaching seminars for graduate teaching assistants; computer hardware and software to assist research, teaching and extension programs, and the use of closed circuit television for delivery of courses and Extension programs at off-campus locations.
Phillips sandwiched two years of military service between earning bachelor’s (1953) and master’s (1958) degrees from Purdue University. He earned his doctorate in soil fertility and chemistry from the University of Minnesota.
Phillips joined the agronomy department at Purdue as assistant professor and Extension soil fertility specialist in 1961. He was promoted to associate professor in 1965, then to professor and assistant department Head in 1969.
Throughout his career, Phillips has been heavily involved in the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America by chairing and serving on several committees.
Nationally, Phillips was active in the United States Department of Agriculture Joint Task Force on Soybean Advancement, National Soybean Crop Improvement Advisory Board and served as a consultant on international projects in Brazil, Burkina Faso and Niger.
Retirement in 1994 did not slow Phillips. He served three years as special assistant to the dean of agriculture, where he helped organize Executives in the Classroom, a seminar for seniors in agriculture. He currently is involved with the local United Way campaign as a member of its finance committee.
“I cannot remember a single time he ever was too busy to provide our organization with guidance, counsel or any other assistance when we asked,” says Larry Svajgr, executive director of the Indiana Crop Improvement Association (ICIA).
“Even in his retirement, he has assisted the ICIA with projects. I have been associated with Dr. Phillips for more than 22 years and have first hand knowledge of his significant contributions to Purdue University, the agriculture profession and the entire agricultural community.”