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In Memoriam

Victor H. Goodman

Associate Professor of Botany, Emeritus

UC Riverside

Victor H. Goodman, a botanist and founding faculty member of UCR’s College of Letters and Science, died in May 2011. He was hired in 1954, shortly after the UCR campus was established in its present location. Victor was the first botanist hired by UCR’s Division of Life Sciences, which later became the Department of Biology. He subsequently joined the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, retiring from that department in 1979.

Victor was born November 11, 1918, in Kansas City, Missouri, where he spent his youth and attended elementary and high school. From 1938 to 1940 he attended junior college in Kansas City where he specialized in the arts. He served as a 1st Lieutenant in the US AAF from 1942 to 1946, after which he entered college at the University of Missouri-Columbia, graduating in June 1947 with an A.B. with distinction in Botany. From 1947 to 1951 Victor was a Graduate Assistant in Botany at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he obtained a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology. After graduation he joined the Agricultural Experiment Station at Mississippi State College as an Associate Physiologist, where he published two papers on the effect of the growth regulator 2,4-D on cotton yield, seedlings, and plant injury.

Victor joined UC Riverside division of Life Sciences in January 1954 as an Assistant Professor of Botany, where he published additional papers on the effect of growth regulators on cotton; he also published a paper in Plant Physiology with Professor Randolph T. Wedding on the influence of temperature on respiration of cotton leaves. In his career as a faculty member, Victor became an expert on lichens and amassed an extensive photographic documentation of lichens in the Riverside area. He taught a variety of courses in botany, including plant anatomy, plant morphology, nonvascular plants, plant physiology and field botany. Victor was promoted to Associate Professor in 1959 and in 1974 became an Associate Professor of Botany in the newly formed Biology Department. In 1978 he transferred to the newly formed Botany & Plant Sciences Department.

At UC Riverside Victor served as Acting Chair of Life Sciences, Director of the Summer Session, and Undergraduate Adviser for 500 Biology majors. He also served on the Teaching Committee in Biology and the College Executive Committee and chaired the Academic Senate Committee on University Extension. Professionally he was a member of the American Society of Plant Physiology, Botanical Society of America, International Society of Plant Morphologists, Southern California Botanical Society, and Western Society of Naturalists.

With the establishment of the UCR College of Letters and Science in 1954, the need for a botanic garden was evident from the beginning. Faced with the prospect of teaching botany, Victor was concerned about how little he knew about the flora of the west, and the Riverside area in particular. Having been raised in Missouri and educated in Missouri and New York, he realized that without access to a nearby botanic garden his teaching and research programs would be limited. Accordingly, among his first acts in 1954 was to propose that the Division of Life Sciences establish a botanic garden, preferably nearby. His proposal was supported wholeheartedly by Professor Herman Spieth, a zoologist and then Chairman of the Division.

Victor was instrumental in having 40 acres on the east side of campus set aside as the Life Sciences Experimental Area. In 1954 UCR hired Frank Vasek, a new Ph.D. in plant taxonomy from UCLA, to share the teaching load in botany, particularly field botany. Frank was subsequently appointed the first Director of the UCR Botanic Gardens in 1962. Victor and his wife Marjorie lived close to campus and cherished the nearby location of the Gardens, which would flourish as UCR’s Botanic Gardens and only living museum.

Marjorie Goodman was also actively engaged in the early years of the UCR campus. She founded, organized and directed the UCR Bookstore in the student union. Her education in Humanities and Geology served her well as she coordinated campus requirements for published materials across all the liberal arts and science divisions and departments. Marjorie died in January 2012.

Following the death of the Goodmans, UCR learned of their bequest of $1.3 million to support the UCR Botanic Gardens. Victor and Marjorie were both longtime supporters of the Gardens. This bequest was used to establish the Victor and Marjorie Goodman Endowment for the Botanic Gardens, which helps maintain the much-loved Gardens in perpetuity.

Jodie S. Holt, Professor Emeritus and Director UCR Botanic Gardens, Chair
J. Giles Waines, Professor Emeritus and Former Director UCR Botanic Gardens