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>  News Releases >   2009 >   January

Ross Virginia named inaugural chair of the Myers Family Professorship

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 01/16/09 • Media Contact: Latarsha Gatlin (603) 646-3661

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Ross Virginia
Ross Virginia (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

The Dean of the Faculty Office is pleased to announce the appointment of Ross Virginia, professor of Environmental Studies and director of the Institute of Arctic Studies, to be the inaugural endowed chair holder of the Myers Family Professorship.

Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Biological Sciences Carol Folt said, “We are all grateful to the Myers family for their generous gift and their support for the Dartmouth faculty. Ross is a big thinker, a creative and prolific researcher and a much loved teacher. His many academic achievements and dedication to preserving the global environment make him an ideal person to hold this endowed professorship.”

Since his arrival to Dartmouth in 1992, Virginia has played a key role in the growth of the Environmental Studies Program, which he chaired from 1992-2000. He has also served as the director of the Institute of Arctic Studies in the Dickey Center for International Understanding since 2003. Virginia has developed an internationally acclaimed research program that includes groundbreaking work on desertification, on the effects of climate change in Antarctica and on the interrelations between environmental law, policy and culture in the polar regions of the world.

In August, the Institute for Arctic Studies, was awarded nearly $3 million by the National Science Foundation through its Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program. The five-year grant, on which Virginia is the principal investigator, supports the development of an interdisciplinary doctoral program in the polar sciences and engineering with a focus on rapid environmental change.

“I am deeply honored to be the first holder of the Myers Family Professorship,” Virginia said. “The Myers family and I share a concern for the sustained health of our ecosystems and the importance of institutions like Dartmouth for developing the knowledge needed to restore damaged lands. The most rewarding part of my position is creating opportunities for students to go into the field and then share in their passion for finding solutions to environmental problems.”

The Myers Family Professorship, funded by gifts from Susan and F. Gibson “Gib” Myers '64, is intended to be held by a faculty member at Dartmouth whose scholarship and teaching focuses on environmental science.

“We have a long-standing interest in the environment and are delighted to have the opportunity to support the work of Ross Virginia,” said Myers. “We’re pleased that an individual of his academic caliber has been selected for this professorship.”

Virginia received his B.S. from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California–Davis in Ecology and has an honorary A.M. from Dartmouth. From 1997 to 2004, Virginia was the Albert Bradley ’15 Third Century Professor in the Sciences. In 2005, he was the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Mentor Award given by Dartmouth College Graduate Student Association in 2005.

He was honored with the CHOICE award for Outstanding Academic Title for the book he co-wrote, titled Law and Ecology: The Rise of the Ecosystem Regime in 2003 and in 2004, “Virginia Valley” was named by the U.S. Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names in honor of his research in soil biology conducted in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.

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