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Elwood B. "Woodie" Ehrle

July 22, 2009

Dr. Elwood B. "Woodie" Ehrle, a longtime Western Michigan University professor who also served as the University's chief academic officer, died Sunday, July 19, in Kalamazoo, Mich. He was 75.

Ehrle officially retired on Dec. 31, 1999, after more than 19 years of service to the University. He came to WMU in 1980, serving as provost and vice president for academic affairs from 1980-83 and then as professor of biology. As provost, Ehrle shepherded the University through tough economic times, and he received the WMU Alumni Association's Teaching Excellence Award in 1995.

Ehrle's early exposure to plants dates back to his childhood in Clifton, N.J., and the floral shop and nursery his parents operated for more than 30 years. His early botanical training came from his grandfather, who, in 1925, produced the world's first double-flowered "Baby's Breath," now the universal florist standard.

Ehrle earned a bachelor's degree in ornamental horticulture from Rutgers University in 1954, a master's in botany from Columbia University in 1955 and a doctoral degree in botany from Penn State University in 1958. He also studied radiation biology at Cornell University. During his career, he co-authored two books and wrote more than 100 papers and articles.

Ehrle worked in positions of increasing responsibility as a member of the faculty and as an administrator at several universities prior to coming to WMU. He was professor of botany at Geneseo State University from 1958 to 1968 with a sabbatical leave taken at Cornell University to study radiation biology in 1965-66. He was associate director of the American Institute of Biological Sciences in Washington, D.C., from 1968 to 1971 and was dean of arts and sciences at Mankato State University from 1971 to 1975. He served as academic vice president at Indiana State University from 1975 to 1980.

Ehrle wrote two books and some 150 papers that were published in 20 different journals. He co-wrote the books "Managing the Academic Enterprise" with John B. Bennett, published by Macmillan Publishing, and "Living with Plants: A Guide to Practical Botany" with Donna N. Schumann and Richard W. Pippin for Mad River Press.

He taught classes for the Michigan State University Extension Service Master Gardener Program and conducted training for the Michigan Federation of Garden Clubs. His more than 8,000 herbarium specimens are housed in the State Museum in Albany, N.Y., and the Hanes Herbarium at WMU. While President of the Michigan Botanical Club, he began his big tree work with Paul Thompson. He became Michigan's big tree coordinator in 1994 and traveled across the state, identifying Michigan's champion trees and delivering talks on the subject.

He was president of the Michigan Botanical Club and Michigan Botanical Foundation and a member of numerous botanical and biological associations. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Botanical Club in 1998 and the Forestry and Parks Association Award for Meritorious Service in 2002.

In accordance with his wishes, there will be no visitation, funeral or memorial services.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Michigan Botanical Foundation:

Michigan Botanical Foundation
C/O Patrick Fields
5349 North Canal Road
Dimondale MI 48821-8712

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
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