In memoriam: Emeritus Dean Glenn S. Pound

Glenn S. Pound, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences from 1964 until he retired in 1979, passed away on July 6 at his home in La Jolla, Cal., at the age of 96.

Much of the college’s current heft in basic biological sciences can be traced to Pound’s administration, says Leo Walsh, who took over as Dean when Pound retired.

Literally and figuratively, Pound deserves credit for adding “Life Sciences” to CALS, Walsh says. In 1968 he spearheaded the successful effort to change the college’s name — it had been the “College of Agriculture” since 1889 — and he laid the groundwork for the college’s current strength in basic research in biology and related fields.

At the same time, the former farmer (he confessed to a reporter that he had once had ambitions of being “the largest farmer in Texas”) understood the importance of applied research and commanded great respect in Wisconsin agricultural circles.

“He led the college in a way that brought the applied and basic research components together better than they had been in the past,” Walsh says. “People with strong basic research capabilities were hired into departments.” That put the college in a good position to take advantage of soon-to-come growth in disciplines such as molecular biology and biotechnology.

Pound helped the college ride a nationwide surge of interest in science that was sparked by fears of being beaten in the “space race” after the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik, the first orbiting satellite.

“President Kennedy began a tremendous national endeavor to improve U.S. science and engineering, which led to placing a man on the moon,” Walsh recalls. “National research agencies like NSF and NIH had tremendous increases in funding at the time. Glenn had a good understanding of both basic and applied research, and he was able to provide very capable leadership in taking advantage of that opportunity.”

The increases in research funding in turn led to new opportunities for graduate student instruction, Walsh adds.

During Pound’s tenure the college also took on some ambitious international endeavors. As part of a U.S. Agency for International Development program to build research and educational institutions in developing nations, the college made significant commitments to projects in Nigeria, Brazil and Indonesia. Many CALS faculty members spent a year or more working in those nations during the 1960s and 1970s, and many students from those countries came to Madison to study.

Among new buildings built on campus during his tenure were Russell Laboratories, Steenbock Library, the Meat and Muscle Biology Laboratory and the Animal Sciences Building — the latter funded by a tax on oleomargarine initiated through a political deal that Pound helped negotiate.

Undergrad enrollments more than tripled during his administration, with most of the growth coming from urban areas. The percentage of women students in the college rose from 8 percent to 40 percent during the same period.

Pound also served a stint as Interim Chancellor of the UW-Madison from July 1, 1977, when Edwin Young left that post to become UW System president, until Irving Shain was named Chancellor the following year.

An Arkansas native, Pound came to the University of Wisconsin to earn a Ph.D. in 1943, left to work for the USDA during World War II, then returned as an Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology in 1946. He conducted research on diseases of horticultural crops and developed several disease-resistant cultivars of cabbage, spinach and radishes. He served as department chair from 1954 until he was appointed Dean.

Pound was preceded in death by his wife, Daisy, in 2004. He is survived by his son Bob (Nancy) of Green Valley, Ariz; daughter Elizabeth (Frank) Fickle of Fayetteville, Ark.; grandchildren Christopher, Benjamin, Jordan, and Ethan; and his sister, Mary, of Colorado Springs.

His obituary will be published in the Wisconsin State Journal on Sunday, July 28.