Plant Pathology presents its history to the University Archives

May 05, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- Members of Penn State's Plant Pathology Department recently presented a copy of the "History of the Department of Plant Pathology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, 1956 to 1976" to the Penn State University Archives in the University Libraries.

Written by James F. Tammen, professor emeritus and former head of the department, the book was inspired by the 40th anniversary celebration in 2003, of the establishment of the discipline of plant pathology as an autonomous department in the College of Agriculture. Len Francl, the department head at the time, organized the celebration in order to impress upon the faculty and the students that plant pathology at Penn State had a brilliant record of achievement.

In preparing for that reunion, Tammen began making notes to refresh his memory. That led to a draft manuscript of some 30 pages and to a decision, made with Francl’s blessing, to write the history of the events that transpired from 1963-1976.

The department, formally established in January 1963, did not arise de novo, but was the result of more than a century of effort in teaching and research in the science, in combination with specific faculty efforts of more than nine years, 1954-1963, to establish plant pathology as an autonomous academic unit in the College of Agriculture.

Tammen joined the faculty of the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology as an assistant professor in October 1956 and in 1965 was promoted to professor. In July 1963, Tammen was named acting head of the newly established Department of Plant Pathology. In January 1965, he was formally designated head of the department and remained in the position until his resignation from the University in 1976. During his tenure, the Department of Plant Pathology received international recognition for its innovative research and teaching activities related to plant diseases. While at Penn State, Tammen also served as president of the American Phytopathological Society (1974-75). Following his departure from Penn State, Tammen was appointed professor and dean of the College of Agriculture, Institute of Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics and director, International Programs in Agriculture at the University of Minnesota. In 2006, Tammen was named professor emeritus in plant pathology at Penn State.

The book will be catalogued to become part of Penn State's collection. For more information, contact University Archivist Jackie Esposito at or (814) 863-3791.

  • James Tammen, Marsha Ann Tate, Rebecca Peplinski, and William Joyce

    IMAGE: C. Grigor

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Last Updated January 09, 2015