SDSU animal science department honors Don Levis |

SDSU animal science department honors Don Levis

BROOKINGS, S.D. – An alumnus whose contributions to swine reproduction have impacted the pork industry throughout the world was recently honored by the South Dakota State University Animal Science Department. Don Levis, who received his Ph.D. from SDSU in 1976 while working with Dr. Lowell Slyter and Dr. Rick Wahlstrom, was awarded the department’s Distinguished Alumni Award during an awards banquet in Brookings on Sept. 25.

“Dr. Don Levis’ impact on pig production has been one of international importance,” says Joseph Cassady, SDSU Animal Science Department Head. “Pig producers throughout the world utilize the ‘Levis System’ that Don developed for managing breeding programs.”

Levis has been a leader in developing swine breeding systems and helping pave the way for successful adoption of artificial insemination within the swine industry. His career has included professorships at North Carolina State University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he held responsibilities in research, teaching and extension. Levis also led research programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., and was the first Director of the Ohio Pork Industry Center.

Based out of Lincoln, Neb., Levis is one of the most highly respected swine reproductive physiologists in the world today and continues to travel world-wide assisting production companies with swine reproductive management issues. Levis has consulted with more than 1,230 individual swine operations in the United States and 15 foreign countries.He is a frequent presenter at boar management conferences where he provides practical advice and sound management recommendations based on a thorough knowledge of the recent and applicable scientific information.

“Adoption of artificial insemination by pig producers throughout the world has reduced the costs of production and increased the rate of genetic improvement,” Cassady adds. “Over 90 percent of all pigs produced in the United States today are the result of artificial insemination, and Don played a key role in making that possible.”

Levis has received numerous awards, including Honorary Fellow and Distinguished Extension Specialist from the American Society of Animal Science, along with numerous Extension awards from the National Pork Board and the University of Nebraska, among others.

“One of the things that’s so special about Don is that he truly cares about the people he works with. They are more like family than clients to Don,” says Dr. Bob Thaler, SDSU Extension Swine Specialist. “Don was a great mentor in my development as an extension swine specialist, and he was ready to help any way he could.”

National Hog Farmer magazine named Levis one of top 50 people influencing the United States swine industry in the last 50 years, and also named him a 2007 Master of the Pork Industry.

“Dr. Levis is widely respected for his ability to turn the latest research into practical application,” Cassady says. “The SDSU Animal Science Department is very proud to call him one of our own.”

Learn more about the SDSU Animal Science Department at

–SDSU Extension