Past Meets Future

Tracy Kitchell
For Tracy Kitchel, an act of giving has come full circle from scholar to alum to department chair.
Kitchel, who became chair of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) in August, was an undergraduate recipient of The Hazen and Anna Jane Hildebolt Preble County Scholarship (Fund #603185).
Now, even as he prepares for ACEL's Centennial next year, he reflects on past and future.
"The Hazen and Anna Jane Hildebolt Scholarship was one of the first scholarships I earned.  It was even more special because its roots were based where I grew up in Preble County," Kitchel said. "Because of the generosity of Bill Hildebolt, I was able to build a solid foundation and take full advantage of the opportunities presented to me as an undergraduate at Ohio State.
"From that foundation, I established a successful career that allowed me to return as professor and chair of the department where it all began for me. That full circle now extends even further with Bill Hildebolt as he provides generous funding for the student organization Citation Needed," Kitchel (left) said.
Kitchel is planning for the future of his department even as it gets ready to celebrate its first 100 years.  
“As we reflect on the legacy the department built over the last 100 years, we’re also looking forward,” Kitchel said. With assistance from an about-finished strategic plan, Kitchel sees the department focusing on:
  • Engaging with other departments and partners for research, scholarship and grants, allowing for an even broader impact on society.
  • Providing more time for outreach. “We have expertise to share with agriculture and the community,” Kitchel said. “We need to find ways for our busy faculty to do more of it.”
  • The enhancement of individuals, communities and teams when it comes to communication, leadership and development.
  • Building upon our reputation for effective teaching. One of the strategies for that would include reviewing changes made at the switch to semesters, to ensure graduates are meeting the needs of employers.
“I feel fortunate to come back to Ohio when the department is ready to take the next step, to move the next level,” Kitchel said.
He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the department, and his doctorate in agricultural education from the University of Missouri.
He recently served as assistant vice provost for the Office of Graduate Studies at the University of Missouri. He also was an associate professor for the Department of Agricultural Education and Leadership in the Coll
ege of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. He was a faculty member for the Center for the Collaboration and Development of Educational Innovations and the Center for Human Dimensions in Natural Resources.
Among his awards and honors: the U.S. Department of Agriculture Excellence in Teaching Award for New Faculty, the Gold Chalk Award for excellence in graduate teaching from the University of Missouri Graduate Profe
ssional Council, Distinguished Teaching and Researcher Awards from the North Central region of the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE), and the Provost’s Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of Kentucky.