Donor Highlight: Arlene Learn

elmer learn

Elmer W. Learn grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and attended Penn State University. It was there that Elmer obtained his BA, MS, and PhD degrees in Agricultural Economics, with Dr. Willard Cochrane serving as one of his professors. He then accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota, becoming a colleague of Dr. Cochrane who had joined Minnesota’s faculty in 1951.

During his time in Minnesota, Learn was an active scholar, collaborator, and faculty mentor.  He advised the dissertations of future department head Jim Houck and three who would later be named Outstanding Alumni of the department (Bill Tomek, Rachel Dardis, and Alex McCalla). Learn also served as department head. 

Dr. Learn moved to Davis, CA in 1969, where he served as Executive Vice Chancellor and on the faculty of the Department of Agricultural Economics.  He retired in 1992 and died in 2015.

It was Elmer’s wish to contribute to the Cochrane Fellowship to honor Willard’s mentorship and friendship throughout his career and life.  His widow, Arlene Learn, honored this wish through a donation to the Cochrane Fellowship.





This photo of Dr. Learn is from a field trip for graduate students and faculty of UC Davis’ agricultural economics department to California’s Central Valley during the summer of 1987.  Frances Homans was one of the students on the trip and took this photo.


“Follow the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Do your best to be honest and deal with others with a sense of integrity.” –Elmer Learn