Benjamin F. Hajek
Benjamin F. Hajek was born and raised on a farm in southeast Texas, where he lived and worked before joining the U.S. Army in 1950. Following three years in the military, Hajek attended Victoria College in Texas and from there went to Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in agricultural science. He then worked for the Soil Conservation Service in south Texas for a short time before attending Auburn University on a National Defense Education Act Graduate Fellowship. After earning master’s and doctoral degrees from Auburn, Hajek went to work as a research scientist with the National Soil Survey Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. He also worked as a researcher at the Battelle Institute in Richland, Washington, as part of the Hanford Project.
In 1968, Hajek returned to Auburn as assistant professor of agronomy and soils, specializing in soil classification and clay mineralogy. During his tenure at Auburn, he developed a reputation, on campus and far beyond, as an outstanding researcher and teacher. His research resulted in greater accuracy in defining the characteristics of soils. This work has guided and improved the management practices of farmers throughout Alabama and the nation. As state cooperator in the National Cooperative Soil Survey, he led the way to improved soil mapping quality through soil characterization analysis and soil map unit analysis. He taught both undergraduate and graduate courses, and his soil judging teams won unprecedented successive national championships in the Intercollegiate Soils Judging Competition in 1978, 1979 and 1980. His team won another national championship in 1986, and he served as a volunteer assistant for the team that won the championship in 2003.
During his career, Hajek received many honors, including the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station Director’s Research Award and election as a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America. He retired from Auburn University in 1995 as Professor Emeritus in Agronomy and Soils and continues to provide his services to the College of Agriculture and to Alabama’s agriculture and forestry industries.
Hajek and wife Rosalie continue to live in Auburn and have four sons—Michael, Mark, Phillip and Paul—and three grandchildren. His four sons established the Dr. Ben F. Hajek Endowed Scholarship in the College of Agriculture in 2008 to benefit other people’s sons and daughters for years to come.