In Memoriam

Oswald Tippo

Oswald Tippo was born in Milo, Maine on November 27, 1911. In 1922, his family moved to Boston where in 1928 he was graduated from Jamaica Plain High School. Tippo attended Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts) in Amherst where he majored in botany, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1932. While at Massachusetts he came under the influence of Professor Ray Ethan Torrey, one of the great teachers of botany. He pursued graduate study at Harvard University, receiving a master's degree in 1933 and a Ph.D. in 1937. At Harvard, Tippo came under the tutelage of Irving W. Bailey and Ralph H. Wetmore, who acted as his advisors.

Tippo joined the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1937 where he established his career in botany and in educational administration, as Chairman of the department, Chairman of the Biological Sciences Division, and then Dean of the Graduate School. In 1955, Tippo was named Eaton Professor of Botany and Chairman of the department at Yale University. From 1960 to 1963, he served as Provost at the University of Colorado and for one year as Executive Dean of Arts and Sciences at New York University.

In 1964, he joined the University of Massachusetts as Provost during a period of enormous growth and expansion of the campus, coupled with considerable campus unrest which he met with unparalleled equanimity. He is credited with establishing the University as a major national research institution by recruiting top-ranked faculty; he interviewed all new faculty hires personally. He pressed for construction of a new library with substantial additions to collections. The library now stands tall as a campus landmark.

Tippo was named the first Chancellor of the Amherst campus in 1970 following a reorganization of the University by the Board of Trustees. The following year, he returned to the classroom as Commonwealth Professor of Botany, and he retired from teaching in 1982. His course in economic botany was highly popular and classes always filled to capacity.

He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Botanical Society of America (serving as president in 1955), American Institute of Biological Sciences, Sigma Xi, International Association of Wood Anatomists, Society for Economic Botany, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Tippo was Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Botany and Editor of Economic Botany. He was author with Harry J. Fuller of the widely used text, College Botany, published in 1949 and 1954 and with William Louis Stern of Humanistic Botanypublished in 1977. He wrote articles on wood anatomy and phylogeny, wood decay and preservation, and for Chronica Botanica, "A modern classification of the plant kingdom." During World War II, Tippo served in a research capacity in the Philadelphia Navy Yard testing wood and wood finishes. Tippo was a strong advocate of the maintenance of separate departments of botany and zoology.

A resident of Amherst, while retired Tippo still remained a familiar figure on campus who could frequently be spotted "holding court" at his regular table at the Faculty Club. In May, 1999 Tippo was honored by the Friends of the Library as the recipient of the Siegfried Feller Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership. At that ceremony, the announcement was made of the naming of the Library's landscaped courtyard: The Oswald Tippo Library Courtyard Sculpture Garden.

Tippo will be remembered as a wise and prudent administrator, a teacher of exceptional ability, a respected counselor, a widely read scholar of broad interests, and for his wittiness. He was a loyal and faithful friend. He died June 10, 1999.

William Louis Stern, University of Florida


Nancy Morin Joins Flagstaff Arboretum

Nancy R. Morin joined the staff of The Arboretum at Flagstaff, in Flagstaff, Arizona, on August 16, 1999, as Executive Director. Morin previously was Executive Director of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta. She also as a faculty appointment in the Biology Department at Northern Arizona University. She can be reached at: The Arboretum at Flagstaff, 4001 South Woody Mountain Road, Flagstaff, Arizona 86001, tel. 520/774-1442, fax. 520/774-1441; email In addition to her new duties at the Arboretum, Morin continues her work on Campanulaceae and as Convening Editor for Flora of North America. The Arboretum at Flagstaff is located at 7150' elevation on the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau. It covers 200 acres, including 10 acres of gardens focused on native plants and a 1.2 mile nature trail through Ponderosa Pine forest and meadows. The Arboretum is a member of the Center for Plant Conservation and has responsibility for 30 rare plant species.

P. B. Tomlinson Honored by the Linnaean Scoiety of London

At the recent meeting of the Linnaean Society of London on September 9, 1999, Professor P. B. Tomlinson, E. C. Jeffrey Professor of Biology in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (Harvard Forest), was awarded the Gold Medal for Botany of the Linnean Society in recognition for his contributions to the development of our understanding of plants in a broad range of sub-disciplines.

Harvard faculty who have been previous recipients of this medal include (for Botany) Richard Evans Schultes (1992), who was also the first E. C. Jeffrey Professor of Biology, and (for Zoology) Ernest Mayr (1977) and Stephen Jay Gould (1992).

Return to: | Table of Contents || Previous Page || Next Page || Plant Science Bulletin Index |