Jim Perdue honored with Leadership Award

Past recipiants of the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business Perdue Leadership Award, from left, Tom Hershey, Jack Burbage and Dr. Ray Hoy, right, join Jim Perdue, Chairman of Perdue Farms.

On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Perdue family name is synonymous with two industries: poultry and education.

Salisbury University’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business recently recognized the chairman of Perdue Farms Inc., Jim Perdue, for his contributions to both, presenting him with the school’s Perdue Leadership Award.

The honor was bestowed during a reception at SU’s Perdue Hall.

The Perdue family has a long history in Salisbury and with SU. Jim’s father, the late Frank Perdue, built the family’s poultry business into one of the world’s most recognized brands. Jim took over as the company’s CEO and advertising spokesman in 1991.

At SU, Frank Perdue endowed the school that bears his name in 1986, encouraging other local entrepreneurs to follow suit. That resulted in SU’s becoming a rare public campus at which all four of its academic schools were endowed. The family’s altruism continued in 2013, when the Madeline G. Perdue Charitable Foundation, Inc., which continues to uphold the legacy of Jim’s mother, announced a $540,000 gift to SU’s women’s basketball program. Both Frank and Madeline attended SU in the 1930s.

Jim, who earned his M.B.A. from the Perdue School in 1990, has followed in his parents’ footsteps with his generosity to the University, supporting these and other initiatives including the Perdue Scholars program and donating his time as a member of the school’s Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliff Shore Hatchery program, which provides funding for regional entrepreneurs. Last year, he helped the school celebrate its 30th anniversary as the guest speaker in its semi-annual Perdue Executive Leadership Series. He also served for 12 years on the SU Foundation’s board of directors.

As president of the Franklin P. Perdue and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, he announced a gift from the foundation to SU for the construction of Perdue Hall, which opened in 2011. In addition, SU is the home of Perdue Farms’ corporate archives.

“Jim Perdue and the Perdue family have been selfless in their support of the Perdue School and Salisbury University,” said Dr. Christy Weer, the school’s dean. “The values he has set forth for Perdue Farms are the same values we work to instill in our students. He is a role model not only for them, but for the community and beyond.”

As chairman of Perdue Farms, Jim heads one of the world’s leading international food and agricultural businesses, serving retail, foodservice and agricultural customers in more than 40 countries. Privately held since its founding in 1920, the multibillion-dollar company employs more than 20,000 associates and partners, with 7,500 independent farm families. Along with SU, it is one of Wicomico County’s largest employers.

Under his leadership, Perdue Farms became the first major poultry company to move all of its chickens to no-antibiotics-ever protocols. In 2016, he announced the company’s “Commitments to Animal Care,” a groundbreaking initiative that is transforming Perdue’s approach to raising chickens. The business also has become a national leader in workplace safety and associate health, including innovative wellness centers at its harvest facilities.

Outside the company, his interests include aquaculture (he earned his Ph.D. in fisheries from the University of Washington) and philanthropy. He serves on the boards of directors of the National Chicken Council and the Oyster Recovery Partnership, whose objective is to restore the population of oysters to the Chesapeake Bay. He also is a well-known advocate in the local community, donating his time to charities including the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore.

The name of each year’s Perdue Leadership Award winner is engraved on a plaque in the Perdue School. Each honoree also receives a commemorative award.

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