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Professor Gary Moorman Retires

Posted: September 8, 2015

Dr. Gary W. Moorman retired on August 31, 2015, after 32 years of service in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology.

Retirement party photos

On August 31, 2015, Gary W. Moorman, Professor and APS Fellow, retired from the Penn State Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology. Gary, who hails from upstate New York, received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Botany at the University of Maine and University of Vermont, respectively, and earned his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from North Carolina State University under the direction of Jeng-Sheng Huang and N. T. Powell in 1978. After graduating, Gary completed four years as Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Suburban Experiment Station in Waltham, where he was assigned to work on vegetable and floral crop diseases. Since his move to Penn State in 1983, he has established multifaceted extension programs, emphasizing the detection, identification, and management of pathogens in greenhouses, nurseries, and landscapes.

Whether working with growers, colleagues, students, or citizens, Gary performed his scholarly duties with care, diligence, integrity, and a deep commitment to excellence. He has given over 500 extension presentations in Pennsylvania without missing a single meeting assigned to him. Gary is highly respected by colleagues in the profession and in the ornamentals industries for the breadth and depth of his knowledge. He has given invited talks in Colorado, Kansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, as well as Canada, Denmark and the U.K.

As an extension plant pathologist, he balanced a busy schedule of meeting presentations with a great deal of written output, including disease fact sheets, extension publications, and trade journal articles. Some of these were among the first fact sheets posted by Penn State on PennPages, an early version of electronic communications and information dissemination in the late 1980s. While Gary never held a majority research appointment in his time at Penn State, he has maintained a strong presence in the peer-reviewed research literature, authoring and co-authoring many important articles and reviews in the best journals in the discipline. A clear theme in Gary’s research was to identify and document the key factors associated with disease problems that can be manipulated to develop management strategies, and this line of investigation is evident in practically every publication.

In addition to his outstanding integrated extension and research efforts, Gary has also been dedicated to resident education. He taught and co-taught several courses, including Diseases of Ornamental Plants, and the capstone course of the Plant Pathology graduate curriculum, Fundamentals of Phytopathology. He was an early adopter of online education, developing an online noncredit correspondence course on Ornamentals Diseases, and a highly successful online course on Horticultural Crop Diseases. Perhaps the clearest indication of Gary’s commitment to students came when he volunteered to teach a two-week intensive course on plant disease diagnosis this summer and to continue doing so indefinitely.

Gary has served APS in several key capacities, including as Northeastern Division President, Councilor-at-Large and Senior Editor of Plant Disease. Perhaps his greatest impact came in his editing work as Senior Editor of APS Press, Plant Health Progress and Plant Disease, and co-writing and editing important volumes including Biology, Detection and Management of Plant Pathogens in Irrigation Water and Diseases of Herbaceous Perennials.

Students, faculty, and staff in the department have grown to respect and appreciate Gary for his sense of commitment and fairness. In committees, he can be relied upon to offer a blunt but fair and well thought-out opinion, and do so with disarming humility, respect, and often, self-deprecating humor. In retirement, Gary will exchange faculty meetings for spending time fishing, traveling with his wife Fran, and as Emeritus Professor, continuing to be an example of excellence as teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend.