Alumni Spotlight: J. David McCracken ’70 PhD

Dr. J. David McCracken graduated from Ohio State in 1970, receiving his PhD in agricultural education.  He is now a professor emeritus at The Ohio State University.
Why did you decide to get a doctoral degree in agricultural education at Ohio Sate?
I was raised on a farm in Iowa, went to Iowa State University, then taught high school and adult farmer agriculture in Charles City, Iowa. My Iowa State University advisor recommended that I attend Ohio State if I wanted to pursue an advance degree at another university. He said that Ohio State was the place to pursue the Ph.D.
How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
Work with the professors in the department enabled me to obtain a faculty position in the department after graduating with my Ph.D. I worked at the National Center for Research in Vocational Education at Ohio State before moving to the academic department in 1973.
What were you involved in as an Ohio State student (student organizations, honoraries, campus jobs, Greek life, etc.):
I was a research associate with the “National Center” during my studies. I abstracted publications for the ERIC Clearinghouse on Vocational Education, which was located at Ohio State.
What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? What was your favorite and why?
My favorite class was in Research Design. It was a class I would later teach.
What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education and career?
Dr. Robert Warmbrod probably had the greatest impact on my career. He was my professor in the research series and later was my department chair. Robert Taylor, who directed the National Center for Research in Vocational Education, was my advisor and provided employment after my graduation with a doctoral degree.
What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
My favorite memory relates to the faculty and students with which I had the opportunity to work.
What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
I worked for the ERIC Clearinghouse on Vocational Education as assistant director. I was responsible for acquiring and abstracting documents and entering them into the system.
For what schools, companies and/or organizations have you worked throughout your career and what were your responsibilities in those positions?
After graduating from Iowa State University with a M.S. Degree, I was a Lt. in the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery, teacher of agriculture at Charles City, Iowa, and then at Ohio State I was with the National Center for Research in Vocational Education and the Department of Agricultural Education.
During your career, honors or awards have you been presented?
  • President, American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE)
  • Teaching Award of Merit, Gamma Sigma Delta, Honor Society of Agriculture, The Ohio State University;
  • Listed, American Men and Women of ScienceWho’s Who in Education, and Who’s Who in the Midwest;
  • Fellow, Distinguished Service Award, Distinguished Lecturer, AAAE;
  • Author of the Year, The Journal of AATEA, 1986 Volume;
  • Founding Member, Phi Beta Delta, Honor Society for International Scholars, Alpha Epsilon Chapter;
  • Fulbright Scholar, Universiti Pertanian Malaysia, 1985-86;
  • President, Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi;
  • Honorary American Farmer Degree, Future Farmers of America;
  • President, American Vocational Education Research Association;
  • Editor, Journal of Vocational Education Research;
  • Member, The Ohio State University Senate;
  • Chair, College Promotion and Tenure Committee;
  • Member College Faculty Council.
As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
I advised 28 Ph.D. and 46 M.S. students to completion of their degrees. I produced 97 refereed papers, 38 invited papers, 24 non-refereed journal articles, 22 research and development reports, and 18 books or chapters in books. I served as advisor to the Malaysian Student Association and the Thai Student Association at Ohio State. This led to my serving a university in Malaysia as a Fulbright Scholar for my sabbatical year in 1985-86 and three years (1995-1998) after early retirement. I then returned to the U.S. and worked part-time for Ohio State until 2003 and the University of Arizona until 2006.
What advice would you give to a current student?
Work to excel in all that you do. Assume you might someday teach the courses you are taking. Prepare!
What did ACEL cultivate in you? How?
ACEL taught me to desire and work for excellence in all that I did. It also taught me that the colleagues with whom I worked  were critically important to the success of all that we do.

After receiving the Honorary American Farmer degree.



My retirement from Ohio State in 1995.

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