Auburn’s International Quality of Life Award event to recognize Canadian university president and owners of Pursell Farms, FarmLinks in Alabama

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences will honor Alastair Summerlee, president and vice chancellor of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, with the 2012 International Quality of Life Award in a ceremony at the United Nations on Monday, Dec. 3. The college will also pay tribute to James T. and Chris P. Pursell of Sylacauga with its 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award.

This annual event, now in its 19th year, was launched in 1994 by the College of Human Sciences to recognize people and partnerships that have made significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world.

Summerlee has served as the seventh president and vice chancellor at the University of Guelph since 2003. Under his leadership, the university has emerged as a leader among Canadian institutions for its civic engagement and volunteerism. Trained as a veterinary scientist, Summerlee has attracted significant funding to support groundbreaking research in fields related to the hormonal control of pregnancy, birth and lactation, cancer biology, iron deficiency anemia in women and HIV/AIDS. He was awarded a 3M teaching fellowship in 2003 and continues, even as president, to be one of the most popular teachers on the Guelph campus.

Summerlee spent six years as chair of the board of the World University Service of Canada, one of the country’s leading international development agencies. During that time, he became involved in humanitarian issues in Africa, especially in refugee camps in Kenya where he is setting up an educational program for children. He earned three degrees from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and had bestowed upon him the Doctor of Laws degree honoris causa in 2004 for his contributions to higher education.

“It is especially gratifying this year to honor a distinguished individual from the ranks of higher education,” said June Henton, dean of Auburn’s College of Human Sciences. “Alastair Summerlee is an innovative teacher, internationally acclaimed scientist, visionary administrator and passionate humanitarian.

“Without question, he is the quintessential scholar whose three-decade career in academia has met the highest standards by which members of the Academy are measured.”

Jimmy Pursell, a 1952 graduate of Auburn University, and Chris Pursell began their careers working at Parker Fertilizer, a company started by Howard Parker, Mrs. Pursell’s father. The family business evolved into Pursell Technologies, best known for producing POLYON, a patented ultra-thin polymer-coated fertilizer. In 2001, the Pursells established Pursell Farms on 3,500 acres on the outskirts of Sylacauga. The property is home to FarmLinks, an 18-hole championship golf course that was the world’s first research and demonstration course. More than 1,000 golf and nursery professionals visit each year to learn firsthand about the latest in state-of-the-art golf course innovations.

In addition to their entrepreneurial success, the Pursells are philanthropists and civic leaders whose impact continues to be felt throughout a number of educational, faith-based, civic and government organizations and initiatives, including Auburn University.

Lifetime Achievement is an award given by the College of Human Sciences for individuals who have brought distinguished recognition to Auburn University and/or the state of Alabama.

“Jimmy and Chris Pursell are the embodiment of the values so eloquently expressed in the Auburn Creed,” said Henton. “Highly respected as entrepreneurs, civic leaders and philanthropists, their impact is widespread throughout the state, but perhaps nowhere more greatly appreciated than Auburn University. The generosity of their giving continues to advance the university’s commitment to providing a world-class education, enabling Auburn graduates to take their rightful place in the 21st century global community.”

For more information about the International Quality of Life Awards, go to

(Written by Amy Weaver.)

Contacts: Harriet Giles, College of Human Sciences, (344) 844-3241, (, or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communication and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (