In a framed black-and-white photo, C. Brice Ratchford sits with his hunting dogs at his feet. Friends say he loved those dogs and treated them like children.
The photo — part of a commemorative display unveiled Tuesday in MU’s Whitten Hall — shows Ratchford in a casual light. In Missouri higher education, he is remembered as the former president of the UM system. Tom Henderson, interim vice provost and director of cooperative extension, called him “the architect of modern extension.”
Throughout his 32 years at MU, Ratchford was full of ideas for the school and wasn’t afraid to take chances on them. He began his career at MU as director of extension and continued as a professor of agricultural economics. It was his belief that MU should serve the entire state — not just the students. “Extension,” he is quoted in the unveiling’s program as saying, “acts as a bridge between the university and the general public.”
On the display, Ratchford is quoted as saying, “This state’s greatest resource is an educated citizenry and society is the main beneficiary of the educated and competent population.”
Charles Campbell, MU extension emeritus associate professor, said Ratchford saw the university as making a difference in lives all over the world. His devotion to international studies came from his graduate economic students. He started programs in South Africa and Kenya. Currently, 50 MU students are studying in South Africa as a result of his program there.
Campbell also remembers Ratchford as a compassionate man with a caring attitude for his staff.
Ratchford’s son, Charles, died June 20, however, before he was able to witness the display as it was put together. Ratchford’s daughter, Mary Ratchford Douglass, and grandson Joe Douglass, attended, along with Betty Ratchford.
In 1999, almost 200 of Ratchford’s friends created the Ratchford Fellowship, a $5,000 award given out once a year to a UM faculty member who furthers the mission of the land-grant institution.