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Burr Named as Goichman Professor

By Ted Boscia

Larry Goichman '66 is an oenophile through and through. His love of wine runs so deep that for many years he tried his hand as an amateur vintner. He'd research and buy grapes and set about fermenting and aging them. He even made handmade labels with the help of his kids. The end product, Goichman says, was often "drinkable, but sometimes not the greatest."

Now retired from his hobby, Goichman has decided to "leave the wine business to the experts" by endowing, with his wife, Jennifer, the Goichman Family Professorship of Enology and Viticulture at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva. The expert, in this case, is Thomas J. Burr, CALS associate dean and NYSAES director, who was recently named as the first Goichman professor.

Thomas J. Burr
Joe Ogrodnick/NYSAES

Thomas J. Burr

Burr, a Cornell faculty member since 1977, has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the biology and the control of two devastating pathogens of grapevines. Furthermore, he has led NYSAES since 2005 and grown its support of the grape and wine industry, including helping in the creation of an undergraduate major in enology and viticulture in CALS and with adding a number of new faculty experts in vineyard management, grape production, and wine quality.

"I could not think of a better person for this professorship than Tom," says Goichman, who went on to found a successful equipment- leasing business after graduating from the Department of Agricultural Economics (now the Department of Applied Economics and Management) and later served two terms on the CALS Advisory Council. "He is a committed scientist, a committed Cornellian, and a tireless advocate for the experiment station. The work he does with grapevines benefits not just growers in New York, but growers everywhere. The world of wine has been greatly improved by his research and leadership of the station."

Burr plans to use the Goichman endowment in part to continue his fundamental studies of Agrobacterium vitis, a bacterium that can infect grapevines with damaging crown gall. Grapes grown in New York and other cold-weather climates are particularly susceptible because crown gall often sets in after freezing temperatures weaken the vines.

The Goichmans' gift will boost the visibility of NYSAES and its enology and viticulture program, says Burr. "We are very fortunate to have alumni like the Goichman family," he adds. "They are greatly supportive of Cornell."