Retired President of Pioneer Seeds Receives Honor Alumnus Award from Colorado State University

Richard L. McConnell will receive the College of Agricultural Sciences Honor Alumnus Award from Colorado State University in a special ceremony on Friday, Feb. 17. The award program is sponsored by Colorado State’s Alumni Association.

A native of Haxtun, McConnell recently retired as president of Pioneer, the world’s largest seed company that provides goods to farmers in more than 70 countries.

McConnell dedicated his professional career to the application of genetic and plant breeding principles to improve the quality of crops, and he has been a leader in developing technology to better support international markets. Before culminating his career with Pioneer as president, McConnel held numerous positions within the company including directing global research programs for several major crop species and overseeing product development and personnel at 60 research stations that developed corn, alfalfa, canola, soybean and sunflower technology.

Pioneer brand seeds are recognized today worldwide and dominate many sectors of the market.

"Dr. McConnell’s professional career has been extraordinarily fruitful, and his successes have been many," said Wayne Keim, professor emeritus in Colorado State’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences who nominated McConnell for the award. "A very large number of individuals and organizations have been positively influenced by his efforts. His company has become even more influential in the world because of his effective leadership."  

McConnell graduated from Colorado State in 1972 with a bachelor’s in agronomy. In 1974, he graduated from Colorado State with a master’s in plant genetics and breeding.

As a Colorado State student, McConnell was active in the Agronomy Club and in the Alpha Zeta and Gamma Sigma Delta honor societies. He also worked on two research projects while an undergraduate, conducting plot and laboratory work associated with alfalfa and plant breeding, and later studying wheat varieties.  

McConnell has served his community on many boards and trustees, including the board of directors of the Central Health System-Des Moines and the board of trustees of the Nature Conservatory of Iowa. He has also served on the United Way Campaign and the United Negro College Fund in Iowa.