Spitze, Robert G.F. (1922-) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Spitze, Robert G.F. (1922-)
Fuller Form: Robert George Frederick Spitze

Historical Note:

ROBERT G.F. SPITZE (1922 - )

Robert G.F. Spitze, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, is a pioneering researcher in the field of Agricultural Economics and the study of agricultural and food policy in the United States. He is nationally and internationally recognized for his research on the process, provisions, and economic implications of agricultural food policy, the analysis of income of Illinois farm families, land grants, and for his leadership in public policy.

Robert George Frederick Spitze was born October 22, 1922 in Berryville, Arkansas to Wesley Henry and Norah Catherine (Stullken) Spitze. He was enrolled in the U.S. Naval Reserve Officer Training Program at Colombia University in 1943, and served as an Officer Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Amphibious Corps, Pacific Area from 1943-1946. After returning home from the war, Spitze received his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Arkansas in 1947, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1954.

In 1943, while enrolled at the University of Arkansas, Spitze met his future wife, Hazel C. Taylor when she interviewed him for an article for the student newspaper. They were married in 1944. Hazel completed her M.S. in home economics and taught adult home economics courses at the Universities of Tennessee, Wisconsin-Madison, and at UIUC. In 1962, after a major struggle against inequality in the workplace and outdated nepotism policies at UIUC, she earned one of the first (if not the first) tenure track positions for a faculty spouse at UIUC.

Robert Spitze served as an Assistant Professor and Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Tennessee from 1951-1960; Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) from 1960-1992, and as the First Visiting Professor of Public Policy at the Economic Research Service in Washington D.C. He has served as chairman of the Interregional Economics Research Policy Project and National Task Force on Policies and Small Firsts, editor of Policy Research Notes (National Research Reports), and a reviewer of USDA Agricultural Competitive Research Grants from 1992-1996.

Spitze's research interests include agricultural food policy, its process, provisions, and economic implications, the analysis of income of Illinois farm families, land grants and land grant universities, agricultural marketing, and the impacts of the 1990 Farm Bill (Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990). He also prepared materials for legislators on agricultural policy.

Throughout his professional career, Spitze has received many awards for his research and service including the National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association Outstanding Philanthropist Award (co-recipient with his wife, Hazel T. Spitze, 2004), The University of Arkansas College of Agriculture and Home Economics 1994 Outstanding Co-Alumni Award (1994),  the American Agricultural Economics Association's Distinguished Policy Contribution Award (1981),  the University of Illinois Award of Excellence for Teaching, College of Agriculture Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Paul A. Funk Recognition Award (UIUC College of Agriculture's highest recognition for exemplary service, 1973), amongst many others.

He and his wife, Hazel Taylor Spitze, sponsor several endowed student scholarship and faculty awards at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Wisconsin, University of Tennessee, and University of Arkansas that recognize scholarly performance for areas unique in the Land Grant mission including teaching, advising, research and publication, extension, and public service.

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