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WVU Davis College receives first named professorship

on Thu, 09/08/2011 - 08:00

Just about any West Virginia University graduate can quickly name their favorite professors, the ones who aided in their education and guided them through their careers. One alumnus and his wife have decided to honor his WVU mentors with a named professorship.

Tom and Sue Tatterson of Martinsburg, W.Va., have pledged $350,000 to the creation of the Ray Marsh and Arthur Pingree Dye Professorship, the first gift dedicated to the creation of a named professorship for WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design. The professorship will advance teaching, research and service by providing a broad range of support to an outstanding faculty member in the Davis College’s Division of Plant and Soil Sciences.

The late Professors Marsh and Dye taught in WVU’s horticulture program when Tom Tatterson was pursuing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in that discipline. Raised on a dairy farm near Fairmont, Tom Tatterson came to WVU following in the footsteps of his two older brothers, who had both earned degrees in agriculture here.

An introductory horticulture course quickly convinced him to diverge from the family tradition of studying animal husbandry. He spent much of his time as an undergraduate as a student worker in the university greenhouse under Professor Dye. He credits his time in the greenhouse with developing his work ethic and ability to cooperate with others.

As he completed his horticultural studies, he also followed WVU’s ROTC course. After graduation, he served in the military in Alaska. Once he completed his active military service, he turned to Professor Marsh for career guidance. Professor Marsh put him in touch with J.O. Knapp, then the director of the WVU Extension Service, who hired Tom Tatterson as a horticultural specialist. Tom Tatterson served in Extension while completing his master’s degree in horticulture.

Tom Tatterson credits his experiences at WVU, both educational and professional, with his subsequent career success. He left WVU to work for Bayer for over eight years, then moved to Abbott Laboratories where he spent 24 years in increasingly responsible positions. Upon his retirement, he was Abbott’s global director of vector and forestry products.

The Tattersons hope their gift will increase the Davis College’s ability to attract and retain outstanding scholars and students, particularly in horticulture. They also hope it may inspire other alumni to offer their support to WVU.

“Faculty support, such as will be provided by the gift from Tom and Sue Tatterson, is precisely what is needed to advance the teaching and research of the Davis College,” said Rudolph Almasy, interim dean. “The Tattersons are helping to guarantee a bright future for our students.”

“The Division of Plant and Soil Sciences is delighted and honored to receive this significant gift,” said Barton Baker, director of the division. “It is the first gift of this nature for the Division and College and will have a positive impact on academic programs. The gift will especially benefit horticulture, but it will also be of benefit to the Division as a whole.

“It will raise our prestige and help increase our ability to attract faculty and students of the highest caliber,” Baker continued. “We are very fortunate to have alumni and friends like the Tattersons who are generous with their resources and want to do thing to strengthen our programs and create great opportunities for WVU and future students.”

The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the private, non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.