Biologist Howe honored with Johnson Professorship selection

Robert Howe, Johnson Professorship
Biology Prof. Robert Howe has been selected to hold the Herbert Fisk Johnson Professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for a five-year term through 2017.

The honor was announced at the University’s annual fall convocation on Aug. 28. (Also honored with named professorships were mathematician Gregory Davis and historian Gregory Aldrete.)

Howe received a ceremonial medallion along with the title at the semester-opening gathering of about 500 UW-Green Bay faculty and staff members hosted by Chancellor Tom Harden.

“In Robert Howe, this University has an acclaimed scholar and teacher worthy of the honor of the Herbert Fisk Johnson Professorship,” Harden said in making the presentation. “His far-reaching contributions in the fields of biology, ecology and ornithology benefit not only UWGB but the larger state and region, and beyond.”

Howe is the founding director of the acclaimed Cofrin Center for Biodiversity. He is a previous recipient of UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Professorship of Natural Science, and received the institutional award for excellence in faculty scholarship. He has been a driving force in the acquisition and development of UW-Green Bay’s arboretum and off-campus natural areas for more than two decades.

Howe joined the faculty in 1984 as a conservation biologist in the Natural and Applied Sciences academic unit. He has an international reputation in the study of animal population dynamics, especially forest birds. He has published widely and received numerous state, federal and private research awards. He was co-investigator on a three-year, $6-million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop and test environmental indicators for coastal and near-shore regions of the U.S. Great Lakes.

He was co-editor and a primary author of the book, the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Wisconsin, a 602-page, full-color volume years in the making and an authoritative summary of distribution, nesting sites, relative abundance and related information on 237 species, published by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.

He holds an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Notre Dame, and master’s and doctoral degrees in zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Named professorships are created through private gifts that support the study and research of a faculty member who has an outstanding record of scholarly accomplishment. The annual stipend associated with this particular professorship is for five years, but the recipient retains the title for life. Stipends are typically applied to research expenses or special projects benefitting students or service to the community.

The Herbert Fisk Johnson Professorship in Environmental Studies was established in 1985 by Samuel C. Johnson and his wife, Imogene Johnson of Racine. It is named in honor of his father. Herbert Fisk Johnson was the grandson of Samuel Curtis Johnson, founder of Johnson Wax Company. He led the company to its present position as a world leader in the manufacture and marketing of wax, wax products and other products produced by the company. Samuel and Imogene Johnson were among the early supporters of UW-Green Bay and remained friends of the University over the years. Samuel passed away in 2004.

The award recognizes and gives support for a full professor who has demonstrated a productive commitment to scholarship and outreach and whose work exemplifies the spirit and mission of the University. The Johnson Professorship is designated for the areas of biological or physical environmental studies or policy studies of environmental issues.

Howe succeeds Prof. Denise Scheberle as current holder of the professorship, and is the seventh UW-Green Bay faculty member to be awarded the title. The others are Scheberle, V.M. Ganga Nair, Michael D. Morgan, Nancy J. Sell, Hallett J. Harris and Michael E. Kraft.

UW-Green Bay currently has eight named professorships. Recipients are nominated by their peers and recommended for selection by a committee of senior faculty and academic leadership.

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