Graduate honors father with college scholarship

Since he graduated SIU nearly 30 years ago, David Delaney has tried to give back to the school he said prepared him to be successful in his career.

Delaney, a 1983 graduate from the College of Agriculture Sciences originally from Eldorado, started a scholarship in his late father’s name for students in the college, has been a guest speaker at the school’s Ag Industry Day and just last week started his orientation to be a member of the SIU Foundation Board of Directors.

He said the professors he had at the university taught him more than just the agriculture industry.

“Every university not only prepares you for the area of your degree but you learn how to work as a team and build personal integrity,” he said. “I think that begins and ends with the professors you have. They weren’t just teaching from the textbook they were preparing you for your future career.”

A day after he graduated, Delaney flew to Omaha, Neb., where he already had a job in his field. From there his career has been a transition of company buyouts that led him to his current position as vice president and chief operating officer for PotashCorp, the world’s largest fertilizer company by capacity and leading potash producer.

Delaney has transferred with four different companies that were bought out, and he continued to work his way up through the organization.

He started out as a sales trainee, then he was a sales rep. Delaney became product director  in 1987, and he became product manager in 1989. In 1991, Delaney became director of industrial sales and in 1993 became the vice president of agriculture sales. He was promoted to vice president of industrial sales in 1997, and he became president of sales in 2000.

Delaney’s last climb up the corporate ladder came in 2010, when he became chief operating officer.

PotashCorp is the world’s leading potash, a mineral fertilizer, producer and has operations in seven different countries. Delaney said he feels fortunate to work for the company as global food security is becoming a looming issue.

With the world population growing quickly, Delaney said it is important to teach people in different positions around the world agronomic practices that will help sustain a growing population.

“It does feel like a greater calling,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of agriculture and part of a great company that will contribute to the growing food security needs of the future.”

PotashCorp also owns 28 percent of the Arab Potash Corporation in Jordan. Delaney represents his company on the Arab Potash board of directors and goes there five times a year where he said he enjoys learning the region’s different culture.

Delaney’s love of agriculture started young. His father, George Delaney, taught agriculture in Eldorado and Harrisburg for 15 years.

“(He) was a great mentor to me and was a tremendous individual; well respected by anyone who knew him,” he said.

George Delaney died in 1985 from a heart attack. David Delaney, whose older brother and sister also graduated from SIU, decided to start a scholarship in his father’s name in 2007. Every year a $1,000 scholarship is given to three or four students.

Delaney meets the students every year and said he tries to mentor them as his father and professors did for him.

“There was a period of time that I feel like agriculture was out of favor and people took it for granted,” he said. “I am really pleased to see SIU College of Ag is witnessing growth. There are a lot of areas students can go into that would be fulfilling.”

Delaney now lives in Lake Forest with his wife Kelley, and daughters Mallory, who is a school teacher, Madison, a senior in high school, and Meredith, who is in seventh grade.

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