Passing of Trustee and Alumnus Paul Risser '61
From Grinnell College President Raynard Kington, July 11, 2014:
I am writing with sad news of the loss of a beloved and dedicated member of the Grinnell community. Paul Risser ’61, Vice Chair of our Board of Trustees, passed away Thursday, July 10, 2014.
Paul was a member of the Board of Trustees since 2007 and was elected vice chair of the Board of Trustees in 2011. He also chaired the search committee that elected me as the College’s president.
He graduated from Grinnell College in 1961 with a degree in biology, and went on to earn a master’s degree in botany and a Ph.D. in botany and soils from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was awarded an honorary degree from Grinnell College in 1994. Paul most recently served as chair of the University of Oklahoma Research Cabinet and executive director of the Oklahoma EDGE program. He was also chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education from 2003-2006. Before that, Paul served as president of Oregon State University and Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. He had also been the acting director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
He consulted or served as an advisor for many prestigious science organizations, including the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences, and agencies conducting scientific research and public policy development, including the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Park Service. His research interests included the study of the structure and function of grassland and forest ecosystems, environmental planning and management, landscape ecology, and global change.
A service is planned for Monday, July 14, at First Presbyterian Church, 555 S. University in Norman, Oklahoma.
Paul will be missed by many people— we will miss his humor, his insights, his energy, and his brilliance. Our condolences go to his wife, Les; twin brother, Jim (Barbara) of Austin, Texas; brother,Ted (Trudy) of Grants Pass, Ore.; sons, David (Holly) and Mark (Yola) of Dallas, Texas, Stephen (Kelly) of Fort Worth, Texas, and Scott (Hilary) of Butte, Mont.; stepdaughters, Amy (Randy) of Walla Walla, Wash. Sarah (Bob) of Denver, Colo.; fourteen grandchildren; and his many friends and colleagues.
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For more Grinnellian news, turn to our Alumni Profiles page.