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Professor Emeritus Supports Far Above…the Campaign for Cornell

By Amy Jacobson, MA '07

A long-term commitment to the mission and values of the college and university is, perhaps, the most defining characteristic of faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. CALS faculty significantly influence the college over time—its programs, students, and prestige. For Professor Emeritus Edwin Oyer, the commitment to develop leaders and improve lives is one that extends far beyond the responsibilities of a professor. Even in retirement, he continues to serve the college through his generous support of CALS International Programs and the Department of Horticulture.

Professor Emeritus Ed Oyer, left, with
Professor Ronnie Coffman

Professor Emeritus Ed Oyer, left, with Professor Ronnie Coffman

Through a recent gift of $10,000, shared equally between the Department of Horticulture and IP-CALS, Professor Oyer and his wife, Mary Ann, have provided critical support to the college in a time of financial uncertainty. For a couple that has already devoted so much of their lives to CALS and Cornell, this gift is truly noteworthy.

Both graduates of Purdue University, the Oyers first came to Ithaca in 1955 from West Lafayette, Ind., when Ed Oyer took a position with the Department of Vegetable Crops at Cornell. Oyer served as the chair of the Department of Vegetable Crops, was the former director of the International Agriculture Program in CALS, and was a director for the Center for the Analysis of World Food Issues.

Since 1955, they have lived around the world—from France to the Philippines, Indonesia, and elsewhere—fulfilling Cornell’s land-grant mission on an international scale. Oyer also has served as a consultant and advisor to such institutions as the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center in Taiwan, the Agency for Agricultural Research and Development in Indonesia, and the U.S. Joint Council on Food and Agricultural Sciences. He also spent one year as the resident faculty member of the Cornell in Rome program sponsored by the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning.

The Oyers now split their time between Ithaca, N.Y. and Fort Collins, Colo. When in Ithaca, they keep busy as active members of the Cornell and Forest Home communities—attending lectures and events on campus, and around town. Ed Oyer serves on the board of Forest Home Chapel and, previously, the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti. Mary Ann Oyer is a beloved member of the Delta Gamma Ithaca Alumnae Chapter, is active with the Cornell Campus Club, and spends much of her time managing the Meisen-Jones Farm LLC, a Hoosier Century Farm that has been in her family since the mid 1850s.