Dr. Andrew McNitt received the PA Turfgrass Council’s Dr. George Hamilton Distinguished Service Award at the 2014 Penn State Golf Turf Conference. Dr. McNitt has been with Penn State serving the turfgrass industry for more than 30 years. After receiving his BS degree in Horticulture in 1983, he took a position as a county extension agent in Southeastern PA and worked extensively with athletic field managers for 6 years. In 1991, he moved to University Park to become a research/extension associate in Penn State’s Turf Program. During this time he obtained his MS and PhD degrees, and was promoted to faculty instructor in Penn State’s World Campus Program in 1998. In 1999 he became Professor of Soil Science in the Dept. of Crop and Soil Sciences at Penn State.
Throughout his academic career Dr. McNitt has focused on research designed to improve the playability and safety of athletic fields. Beginning in the 1990s Dr. McNitt and his graduate students pioneered the development of several devices to characterize athletic field conditions, including machines to measure traction, divoting, and pace of baseball surfaces. He used information from his research program to devise practical recommendations for athletic field managers throughout the United States. In 2008, Dr. McNitt initiated the Penn State Center for Sports Surface Research (http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/ssrc), where he and his graduate students publish research results related to athletic field surface characterization and golf green construction and maintenance. Over his 30+-year career, Dr. McNitt has consulted on numerous golf course and athletic field construction and renovation projects and is now acting as a Technical Advisor to the National Football League (NFL) Groundskeepers Organization and serves on several committees at the NFL League level. He currently coordinates the NFL Game Day Certification Program which sets standards for field conditions on game days.
Dr. McNitt currently serves as coordinator for the undergraduate Turfgrass Science major at Penn State, as well as four other turfgrass programs in Penn State’s World Campus (the Basic and Advanced Certificate Programs, Associate Degree Program, Bachelor of Science Program, and Masters of Professional Studies). He has received three University teaching awards, and in 2010 Dr. McNitt was inducted into Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences Academy of Teaching Excellence. Over the past ten years he has helped place hundreds of students in entry level positions on golf courses and athletic fields.
Dr. McNitt is a long time member of the PA Turfgrass Council, and has served on the Technical Advisory Committee in various roles for over 15 years. He was a key member of the Eastern PA Turf Conference and Trade Show Committee from the 1980s until 2005, and participated in contacting speakers, conference set-up, wrap-up meetings, and speaking in various sessions. In 2005, he assumed responsibility for overseeing the Northeastern Turf School, which includes planning educational sessions, contacting speakers, as well as setting up registration and coordinating a trade show. This meeting is one of the few educational events focusing on turfgrass management in the northeastern corner of Pennsylvania.