Robert Basye was a mathematics professor by vocation, but a world-class rose breeder by avocation. Breeding roses to increase resistance to diseases was his passion and conquering the blackspot disease of roses was his lifetime goal. His generous donation established an endowed professorship to support rose breeding and genetics. The current holder of that distinguished professorship is Dr. David Byrne.
Established at the bequest of floral design innovator M. “Buddy” Benz, the Benz Endowed Chair and School of Floral Design is a multifaceted program which includes the Benz Gallery of Floral Art, located in the expansive atrium of the Horticulture/Forest Sciences building, and the Benz School of Floral Design, which offers four advanced training courses for floral designers annually. The bequest also supports the teaching activities of the Chair holder, Mr. Bill McKinley, renowned designer and floral educator.
The Ellison Chair in International Floriculture is named after Jim and Ellen Ellison, who spearheaded the campaign to generate industry funding for the Chair. The mission of this Chair is to advance the health and vitality of the floriculture industry on a national and international scope through exemplary academic leadership, cutting-edge applied research, innovative extension outreach programs and by mentoring well-educated, impassioned leaders to support the future of floriculture. The current holder of the Ellison Chair is Dr. Charlie Hall.
The Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center (VFIC) was established in 1992 under the direction of Dr. Leonard M. Pike to support and strengthen the total vegetable industry through research. It’s goal is to develop new technologies for producing quality vegetable products in an efficient, economic and environmentally-sound system, with a focus on achieving health and nutrition benefits. In March 1999, fruit was officially added to the name and research scope of the Center. The Center is directed by Dr. Bhimu Patil.