As a rising senior at Wheaton, Warren Dick ’75 spent the summer in south Sudan with Student Missionary Project (now Student Ministry Partners). He arrived as an aspiring medical doctor but left determined to trade in medicine for a career as a “dirt doctor.”
A North Dakota farm boy, Warren was captivated by the connection between Sudan’s poverty and malnutrition and its farming practices. Where Warren served with SMP, staples like corn, millet, peanuts, and sweet potatoes were often grown using the “slash and burn” method—an environmentally corrosive approach that is unsustainable for large populations.
After Wheaton, Warren went on to study soil science at Iowa State University, and then taught for nearly four decades at the Ohio State University.
Along the way, Warren trained dozens of graduate students in soil chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and sustainable agricultural practices, often forging close relationships that allowed him to share his faith in Christ.
Recently, Warren reignited an old dream by founding the Bethel Environmental and Agricultural University and Training Center in Waliso, Ethiopia, a few hours southwest of Addis Ababa.
With the motto “Train a Farmer, Feed a Nation,” the center will teach sustainable agricultural practices to help the nation—and eventually the African continent—battle starvation and malnutrition. Warren cites a 2012 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report that concluded investment in agriculture is five times more effective at combating poverty and hunger than investment in any other sector. Warren would like to grow the center into a fully accredited Christian university.
“There is a real need for high-quality Christian technical universities in the developing world,” he says. “I’m convinced that private Christian universities like this one are going to turn things around in Africa.”