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Outstanding Service to CALS honor goes to generous, engaged Pritts

Dean Boor and Marvin PrittsReposted from CALS notes:

On Nov. 10, Dean Kathryn Boor, Cornell Cooperative Extension Director and Associate Dean Chris Watkins, and more than 100 guests celebrated the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s best and brightest at the 11th annual Research, Extension and Staff Awards.

Boor praised all the recipients, and thanked them for epitomizing Cornell’s land grant-mission of delivering knowledge with a public purpose.

Among those honored was Marvin Pritts for Outstanding Service to the CALS Community. The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated sustained and exemplary leadership that advances the land grant mission and includes those who have demonstrated leadership in specific roles, such as department chairs or task force and program leaders.

Pritts, a professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science and chair of the Horticulture Section, is an accomplished scientist, dedicated teacher and talented mentor, all of which reinforce his value to the School and the University.

Being a department chair is one of the most difficult jobs at the university. A chair has a diverse constituency, whose concerns must be addressed, including faculty, staff, students, stakeholders and deans. Successful leadership of such a varied group depends heavily on getting department members engaged and willing to contribute time, energy, and ideas – yet the only tools available to spur engagement are the power of an idea and respect for the chair.

Boor noted that as a manager, Pritts welcomes multiple perspectives, but makes decisions confidently. He listens more than he speaks, and he works hard to give everyone a voice. He has successfully lead several mergers in Horticulture, including the recent joining of the Ithaca and Geneva units, as well as the combining of several departments into the School of Integrative Plant Sciences. He is also a generous and involved adviser, even going so far as to invite a group of students to his home for Thanksgiving dinner one year when he heard they would not be traveling to see their families for the holidays.

Beyond his work at Cornell, Pritts also is very active in the community outside the university. He has served on the board of directors of the Cayuga Nature Center for more than a decade and also takes groups of high school students to Guatemala every other summer to work at an orphanage.

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