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Robert S. Whitney

photo of Robert Whitney

Degrees Awarded

  • B.S. Colorado Agricultural College – 1934
  • M.S. Cornell University – 1939
  • Ph.D. Cornell University – 1951
  • Years at CSU – 1934 to 1975


Awards and Recognition

  • Fellow, American Association Advancement Science, 1951
  • Fellow, American Society Agronomy, 1961
  • President, American Society Agronomy , 1966
  • Oliver Pennock Outstanding Teaching Award, CSU, 1957
  • Honor Alumnus Award, College Agricultural Sciences, 1975
  • Fellow, Soil Science Society of America, 1976

Robert Whitney was “Mr. Colorado State” all the way, born in Fort Collins and lived his entire life except for military duty and graduate student leaves. Upon completion of his B.S. degree from the Colorado Agricultural College in 1934, Bob joined the Department of Agronomy faculty. It was the beginning of a long and effective career in teaching, research, extension, administration, and service. He pioneered research on the effect of carbon dioxide partial pressure on soil pH, and the reclamation of eroded soils and subsoils exposed by land leveling. He was an international authority on the management of irrigated soils. His early research on the use and management of animal wastes for increased crop production was reemphasized during the times of increased concern for pollution control. He published over 75 technical and general papers.

Whitney was granted leaves of absence to pursue graduate studies at Cornell University, earning an M.S. in 1939 and a Ph.D. in 1951. His major studies were Soil Fertility and Plant Physiology. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the U.S. Air Force as a Weather Officer. Bob taught Introductory Soils for 22 years, and also Soil Chemistry and Soil Physics. In 1959 he was named Head of the CSU Agronomy Department. His effective dedication to his responsibilities over the years is reflected in the following humorous comment. Bob was a single man. It was said that the faculty was his wife and the students were his children! Bob Whitney enjoyed teaching and advising and was sensitive to the needs and problems of his students. He was presented with many honors and awards over the years. Bob told his colleagues that his greatest joy and achievement came from teaching and associating with some 5300 students over the years.

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