ISU endowed chair named for George Washington Carver

AMES, Iowa -- With support from the state of Iowa and a private donor, Iowa State University has established an endowed faculty chair in the name of its first African-American student and faculty member, world-renowned scientist George Washington Carver.

The George Washington Carver Chair will be housed in the department of agronomy. Officials are working to identify candidates to fill the chair.

"We're extremely grateful for the private support and the funding approved by the legislature and Gov. Culver in 2007," said Elizabeth Hoffman, executive vice president and provost. "We look forward to selecting an outstanding individual for this position, which honors one of the foremost scientists of the last century and one of our most accomplished graduates."

A trust established by Raymond Baker prior to his death in 1999 is providing $1 million for the endowed chair. State support consists of $250,000 in FY 2008 and an equal amount in FY 2009.

"It is fitting that my grandfather, Raymond Baker, is involved in helping fund the George Washington Carver Chair at Iowa State since he was a longtime admirer of Dr. Carver," said Joe Baker. "Iowa State means a great deal to my family, and we are delighted that my grandfather's gifts will continue to support Iowa State in such a meaningful way."

The agronomy department is a key part of Iowa State's expanding research, teaching and outreach emphasis in plant and soil sciences and the emerging bioeconomy. The holder of the Carver Chair will conduct an academic program in sciences related to agronomy and the bioeconomy and is expected to teach both undergraduate and graduate courses.

Raymond Baker received his bachelor's degree in agronomy at Iowa State in 1939, and became an extraordinary leader in Iowa agriculture. His work as a corn breeder, researcher and leader at Pioneer Hi-Bred International helped foster a revolution in agronomy.

George Washington Carver received his bachelor's (1894) and master's (1896) degrees from Iowa State, served as a faculty member and later joined the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He gained an international reputation for his plant research and creation of more than 300 products from peanuts. In 1994, Iowa State posthumously awarded him a Doctor of Humane Letters, and in 1998, an all-university celebration carried his name.