Richard L. Guthrie
A native of Union Springs, Guthrie grew up on a diversified farm that included dairy cattle and chickens. He was active in 4-H programs during high school and after graduation, he entered Alabama Polytechnic Institute on a football scholarship. He played end for the Tigers from 1958 to 1961, also lettering in track in 1959.
In 1962, after receiving a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and soils, Guthrie began working with the Soil Conservation Service. He completed a master’s in soil science from Auburn in 1965 and a Ph.D. in soil science from Cornell University in 1968. After a number of years with the USDA and the SCS in Alabama, Texas and Washington, D.C., Guthrie returned to Auburn in 1983 as professor and head of the Department of Agronomy and Soils. From 1985 to 1988, he served the College of Agriculture as acting dean before being appointed associate dean of international programs in 1988, a position he held until his first official retirement in 2003.
The knowledge and leadership skills Guthrie gained through SCS and graduate school served him well. His work contributed to the improvement of soils mapping in Alabama and across the nation. This more precise classification system resulted in better conservation practices and increased knowledge of the efficient use and limitations of individual soil types.
For more than 20 years, Guthrie served as liaison for an academic interchange agreement between the College of Agriculture and Hubei Academy of Agricultural Sciences in China. He continues to emphasize the importance of bringing global perspectives and experiences to Auburn’s students and faculty and of connecting the citizens of Alabama with people and institutions around the world.
In 1996, the AU Athletic Department presented Guthrie the Walter Gilbert Award, which recognizes former athletes for their accomplishments after graduation.
Guthrie came out of retirement in the fall of 2005 to become dean of the College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.
A member of Auburn United Methodist Church for 25 years, Guthrie is an usher and is active in Methodist Men. He also is active in the Lee County Sunshine Rotary Club, having served as a past president and Paul Harris Fellow.
Richard and Kay have three daughters: Ann, Kathy and Luci; a granddaughter, Anna Kathryn; and a grandson, William Richard.