YOU NEED TO KNOW: Donald Conner
Meet Donald Conner, the head of the Department of Poultry Science. Dr. Conner earned his undergraduate degree in environmental health science from the University of Georgia. He then went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Georgia, both in food science, specifically in the area of food microbiology. Dr. Conner and his wife, Kim, have two daughters: Callie, who earned her BFA from Auburn and now lives in Charleston, South Carolina; and Chasitie, who is a sophomore at Auburn majoring in apparel merchandizing. Outside of work, Dr. Conner loves traveling and spending time with his wife. Since his duties at work are mostly mental and sedentary, he enjoys time at home cooking, working in the yard and playing with his dog, Tink. Dr. Conner also leads a men’s small group through the Church of the Highlands.
What drew you to Auburn University and the College of Agriculture?
This is an interesting question that gave me a good opportunity to reflect. I came to Auburn for the first time on Presidents Day, 1989, when I interviewed for an assistant professor position in poultry science. Before that, I knew very little about the university or the area. Very quickly however, I knew this was a great place and where I wanted to be. Great academics. Great students, staff and faculty. Great town. Absolutely, coming to Auburn was one of the best decisions of my life!
What advice do you have for students looking at Auburn University and the College of Agriculture?
As a potential student looking from the outside in, you will only see the tip of the iceberg so to speak. The college offers very dynamic, diverse programs and experiences that are impossible to capture in a brochure or website. So, plan a visit either through the college or department(s) in which you are interested. Seeing things first-hand will open your mind to all kinds of opportunities and possibilities you have yet to imagine. Also, follow us on social media. You will see some of the cool things that go on every day here.
What is your favorite Auburn tradition? What has been your most exciting moment here at Auburn?
I think my favorite Auburn tradition is the exchange of “War Eagle” among alumni and friends. When I am in a different state or even country and I see someone in an AU hat or shirt and I say “War Eagle”, I naturally get a return “War Eagle.” I have experienced this literally all over the world. It is an exciting connection to have, even with strangers.
There are two events that are my most exciting Auburn moments. First is the opening of the new Poultry Science Building in 2005. This state-of-the-art office and research building continues to be a landmark on the Auburn campus. The second is construction of our new Poultry & Animal Nutrition Center, which opened in 2012. This new facility is a showcase of modern agriculture that provides our students with a great learning environment. These outstanding facilities as well as new farm facilities planned for 2016 enhance the ability of our students and faculty to excel.
What is it like being the department head of poultry science?
Wow, it is different every day and seems like there is continually something new and exciting. This is one of the reasons I love my job and the folks I am privileged to work with. I also love the fact that our faculty, staff and students are dedicated to serving the poultry and food industry. These connections to the industry help us stay on mission and bring meaning to our work.