A 55-year career at Ohio State can hold many accomplishments, but Professor Herbert W. Ockerman, PhD, is most proud of the global and personal impact he’s had working with students and sharing his expertise to advance animal science.
Throughout his career, Ockerman has led the international student and visiting professor program for Meat Science in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
“I measure myself based on how successful my students become,” said Ockerman, who has taught more than 100 international PhD students, many of whom now hold impactful roles around the world.
On a daily basis, he keeps in touch with past students, whom he considers family. He also visits them when he travels across the globe. Ockerman shares his vast knowledge, resources and extensive library to help them further their own careers and research – all which impact the mission of food sourcing and helping businesses.
“I’m contributing to humanity and I believe my purpose in life is helping people,” Ockerman said. “I want to make the world a better place when I leave than the way I found it.”
Ockerman’s passion for helping people, work ethic and interest in the meat industry started long before he began working at Ohio State in 1961.
As a young boy growing up in Kentucky during World War II, he experienced food demand and rationing, which demonstrated firsthand the importance of food security. In just the sixth grade, he assumed the role of butcher while working at a grocery store. He also worked on his family farm and cannery to preserve food.
“I love to work and I started at a very young age. One thing I always tell students or people starting their careers is that you have to have a good foundation. Hands-on experience is important,” Ockerman said, which has proven to be beneficial to his career.
Another piece of advice Ockerman offers is getting involved. In addition to his administration and teaching responsibilities, he volunteers in department inclusion initiatives, serves at the annual Ohio State Thanksgiving dinner, participates in various roles across campus, is part of many industry committees and leads philanthropic efforts to donate books around the world.
Ockerman’s 55 years of service include only full-time professional work, not time spent as a student. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Kentucky, where he also served in ROTC and the U.S. Air Force. His PhD is from the University of North Carolina and he also holds honorary doctorate degrees from Kentucky, Poland and the Philippines.