Kenyon Butterfield became the second president of Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, following the abrupt departure of John Washburn, its first president. Butterfield strove to make the college of greater service to a larger number of Rhode Islanders.
Butterfield also pioneered an extension department at the college in 1904 and later helped draft the federal 1914 Smith-Lever Act that established a Cooperative Extension Service at all land-grant colleges nationwide. By 1906, however, Butterfield realized the College’s strength lay not in its agricultural program. Of the 17 students entering the College in 1905, only two decided upon agricultural careers.
…Agriculture must be made to yield returns in wealth, opportunity, in contentment, in social position, sufficient to attract and to hold to it a class of intelligent educated American citizens. This is an end vital to the preservation of American democratic ideals.”
Kenyon L. Butterfield