[UPDATED APRIL 16, 2019, to correct Linda Katehi's title to Chancellor.]
I know many of you worked with Charley Hess. I have learned that Charley passed away Saturday at home with family following a long bout with congestive heart failure. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
In memoriam: Charles E. Hess
Charles E. Hess, former USDA assistant secretary and longtime dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a professor emeritus in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, died April 13.
Hess was one of the principle architects of the National Research Initiative, which evolved into the competitive grants program of USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
“He led the successful advocacy for the NRI with support from then Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter, OMB and key congressional supporters on both the Agriculture and Science Committees. The initiative was strongly supported by all parts of the land grant system and by the food and agriculture community in industry,” Neville P. Clarke of Texas A & M University wrote in an email.
Hess, who received his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University and his master of science and doctoral degrees at Cornell University, joined Purdue University in 1958, serving on the faculty until 1966. He returned to Rutgers in 1966 as chair of the Department of Horticulture and Forestry and became acting dean of the Rutgers College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences in 1971. He was named the founding dean of Rutgers' Cook College in 1973.
At UC Davis, Hess served as dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences from 1975 until 1989, when he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to be the assistant secretary for science and education in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prior to that, he had two presidential appointments to the National Science Board, the governing board of the National Science Foundation.
Upon his return to UC Davis in 1991, he served as the director of international programs. He retired in 1994, but continued serving the university as a special assistant to the provost and chancellor, interim vice chancellor of the Office of Research, and chair of the Department of Nutrition from 2007 to 2009.
He facilitated the move of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Western Human Nutrition Center from San Francisco to UC Davis in 2003. Hess also served as chair of the U.S. Agency for International Development-National Academies Review Panel for the Pakistan–U.S. Science and Technology Cooperative Program.
As UC retiree himself, Hess promoted the welfare of retirees through his service as the first chair of the Retiree Center Advisory Committee and as a former president of the Emeriti Association. He served as chair of the Council of UC Emeriti Associations from 2008 to 2010 and as team leader of the Retiree Health Workgroup of UC President Mark Yudof's Post-Employment Benefits Task Force.
He served on the Almond Board of California's science advisory panel and in 2013 was inducted into the Horticulture Hall of Fame.
In 2014, Hess received the UC Davis Medal, the premier accolade the campus bestows upon an individual. “No one is more deserving of this honor than Charley,” UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi said at the time. “UC Davis is the global leader in agricultural and forestry research due, in great part, to his vision and leadership.”
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