Early on, he recognized the importance of giving back to MSU to help strengthen academics, outreach and research.

Larry Walker


Early on, he recognized the importance of giving back to MSU to help strengthen academics, outreach and research.

A retired Cornell University professor, three-time MSU alumnus and MSU adjunct professor, Larry Walker spent his career at the forefront of agricultural-based bioindustry research and development. Through giving back his time, talent and treasure, Larry is helping ensure future Spartans have the same opportunities.

Larry earned a bachelor’s in physics, and a master’s and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural engineering — becoming the second Black student in MSU’s history to earn a Ph.D. in agricultural engineering. He joined Cornell’s faculty in 1979, retiring 36 years later from a position as director of the Biofuels Research Laboratory. 

“Agriculture is an exciting area because you have a lot of opportunity to integrate knowledge from many fields of study, and that has always appealed to me,” Larry says. “Much of my research activities have focused on exploring phenomena at the interface of the physical and biological worlds. Agriculture and environmental conservation problem-solving are very much operational at this interface.”

Early on, he recognized the importance of giving back to MSU to help strengthen academics, outreach and research. His wife, Nadine, shares her husband’s passion for addressing sustainable human development and the stewardship of natural resources.

Members of MSU’s Shaw Society, the Larry and Nadine have supported many College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) initiatives and have created some of their own based on passions and interests.

In honor of his major of study professor, they helped grow the W. Bakker-Arkema Endowed Scholarship Fund in Biosystems Engineering. This fund, established by Bakker-Arkema, advances educational opportunities for African American students and other people who have traditionally faced barriers to educational opportunities. They also provide annual support for CANR’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to strengthen and expand DEI opportunities.

Additionally, the couple makes annual gifts to support projects that encourage youth to pursue STEM careers, including the H2O STEM Project in the Institute of Water Research, which helps get students excited about the science of water and the Great Lakes Education Program, a Michigan Sea Grant and MSU Extension program, which promotes interest in the Great Lakes and helps elementary students understand their roles in protecting these freshwater resources.

Another focus of Larry and Nadine’s support is the MSU-Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning, and Innovation, an MSU Extension urban food research and education center located in Detroit.

In addition to their gifts to CANR, they joined with two friends from Larry’s undergraduate years, to establish the Walker, Lartigue, and Higgins Endowment Supporting MSU’s Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. Larry says: 


MSU took someone who had a small view of the world (me) and expanded it. For the first two years of my undergrad studies, civil rights were very important, and with that came a certain sense of social responsibility and a passion for science and technology.


Not only has Larry given back financially, he also serves as an adjunct professor for the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, working closely with Doug Buhler, Ph.D., director of MSU AgBioResearch and MSU assistant vice president of research and innovation, and others researching holistic agriculture innovation.

Since 2016, he has also served as a CANR Alumni Association board member, including on the scholarship committee reviewing student scholarship and club grant applications.

LEARN MORE about Larry Walker’s time as a student at MSU and his career that followed at www.canr.msu.edu/news/msu-alum-philanthropist-continues-to-advance-msu-and-canr

LEARN MORE about supporting the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, by contacting Development Officer Kathy Spring at springk1@msu.edu or by calling (517) 353-4749.