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OSU to rename animal science arena in memory of Robert Totusek

Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is renaming the OSU Animal Science Arena in memory of Robert. E. Totusek, who passed away in June. A 38-year faculty member of the university, “Dr. Tot” as he was affectionately called by faculty, staff, students and alumni coached great livestock teams and performed landmark beef cattle research.
OSU to rename animal science arena in memory of Robert Totusek

Robert E. Totusek, longtime head of the OSU Department of Animal Science

Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is renaming the OSU Animal Science Arena in memory of Robert. E. Totusek, who passed away in June.

 

A 38-year faculty member of the university, “Dr. Tot” as he was affectionately called by faculty, staff, students and alumni coached great livestock teams and performed landmark beef cattle research.

 

“As head of the OSU Department of Animal Science for 14 years, he was responsible for bringing together what had been three separate academic departments into one and led the unit to national renown as a producer of great scholars, industry leaders and outstanding purebred livestock,” said Clint Rusk, current head of the department.

 

In retirement, Totusek served as an ambassador and distinguished elder statesman for DASNR and the department. He was initiated into the Saddle and Sirloin Club at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1997, the most prestigious honor awarded to an animal agriculturist.

 

“Dr. Totusek was responsible for record-setting donation campaigns, and became a driving force behind our Animal Science Alumni Association,” Rusk said. “One of his final leadership contributions was helping the ASAA establish five purebred-teaching center endowments.”

 

Totusek was instrumental – along with fellow OSU animal scientist Jarold Callahan – in the development and construction of the OSU Animal Science Arena, which was built in 1988 to replace the arena that was part of the old Animal Husbandry Building when it was torn down to make way for the OSU Noble Research Center.

 

The arena includes an almost 18,000 square foot floor with adjacent seating for 779 people. It also includes excellent animal working areas, office and kitchen space, a 1,675 square foot classroom and superb sound and lighting systems that make the facility a good choice for both teaching programs and special events.

 

“A relentless thinker and proactive leader, Dr. Tot always knew how to guide others in the right direction, get you to consider a new perspective or challenge you to act,” said Mark Johnson, DASNR animal scientist who was the first holder of the OSU Robert “Bob” Totusek Endowed Chair in Animal Science.

 

In addition to the animal science arena, Totusek was instrumental in the construction of the OSU Animal Science Building and helped lay the groundwork for the development and construction of the OSU Food and Agricultural Products Center, the OSU Willard Sparks Beef Cattle Center and OSU Swine Teaching and Research Center.

 

Johnson, who serves as supervisor of the OSU Purebred Cattle Center, added Totusek had unwavering staying power and relevance to younger generations.

 

“Dr. Tot had an uncanny knack for connecting to people of all ages, and was so extremely genuine and sincere that he made a lasting impression on the students he met, related to and remained in contact with throughout his life,” he said.

 

A Cowboy alumnus as well as a faculty member, Totusek earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science from then Oklahoma A&M College in 1949, after serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

 

A native Oklahoman, Totusek was born on a farm between Kingfisher and Garber to Aloise Karbusicky Totusek and Emil Totusek. Both of his parents’ families were immigrants from Czechoslovakia and were active in the local Czech communities.

 

Growing up during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, he often recalled that his parents were poor but had a large garden and plenty of milk, meat and eggs, and delivered food to a number of Garber-area families in need every Saturday.

 

“These early experiences impacted his life’s direction to become an advocate for the power of agriculture,” Johnson said. “He was a giant in the field of animal science and a visionary leader who was always searching for ways to improve the efficiency of meat animal production and to help the OSU Department of Animal Science.”

 

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REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Donald Stotts
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
143 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4079
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: donald.stotts@okstate.edu

 

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