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Activities & Events

The Friends of the Libraries will be sponsoring the following event on the University of Colorado Boulder campus:



The Naturalist


Wednesday, November 12, 4:30 pm
on the Norlin Library fifth floor


Join a conversation on the intersection of Colorado flora, CU collections and botanical research with key figures from the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Museum of Natural History and Herbarium, as well as the Denver Botanic Gardens. This event, a celebration of the 60-year career of CU-Boulder Professor Emeritus and Curator­Emeritus William A. Weber will take place on the CU Boulder campus on Wednesday November 12 at 4:30 p.m. on the Norlin Library fifth floor.


Now holding the unofficial title of oldest active professor with the longest tenure at the University of Colorado Boulder, retired professor of botany William A. Weber started at CU-Boulder in 1946 as an instructor in the Department of Biology.  He was appointed Professor of Natural History in 1962, when he also joined the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History as curator of the fledging herbarium collection of plant specimens. That collection now holds over half a million specimens and was named The W.A. Weber Collection in 2012.


To honor his lifetime of achievements, the University Libraries selected Weber as a “CU Legend” which is the third installment in this ongoing series. Now showing on the Norlin Library 2nd floor southwest through 2015, the exhibit, titled “The Naturalist,” follows the legendary CU botanist from his youth in Brooklyn to his appointment at CU-Boulder and subsequent travels across the globe, cataloging and classifying flora and lichen. A series of large color posters depict how Weber made the flora of Colorado his life’s work and brought it to the attention of the world. 

Professor Weber’s career was launched when he was gifted a small microscope at the age of five. Depression-era New York city provided an ideal setting for a young naturalist who frequented the city’s parks and natural history museums, joined walking clubs, and even founded his own bird club. He continued his education formally with a B.S. degree in botany from Iowa State University (1940) and M.A. (1942) and Ph.D. (1946) degrees in botany from Washington State University.

Since moving his family to Boulder in 1946, Weber has engaged actively in service to his community, profession, international scientific societies, and on various expeditions. In 1951, he entered the world of lichenology, which he calls the “most significant event in my life.” This continuing passion resulted in the 1998 publication of “A Rocky Mountain Lichen Primer” with former CU-Boulder Chancellor James Corbridge.

In 1957-58 Weber received a National Science Foundation Senior Post-Doctoral Fellowship to spend a year at the Riksmuseum in Stockholm conducting research in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. In 1964 he participated in an International Expedition to the Galápagos Islands and, over a period of nine years, collected and published the first studies of their lichens and bryophytes. Subsequently he did intensive work in Australia, New Guinea, Siberia, Scandinavia, the American Arctic, and Nepal. His study of historical plant geography in these regions has led to his own hypotheses about plant origins and distribution.

Weber was elected a Member of the prestigious Linnean Society of London in 1984. 

He is co-editor, with Ron Wittman, of the “Colorado Flora Series.” which has been in continuous publication since 1953, with the most recent publication in 2012 in two volumes: “Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope” and “Colorado Flora: Western Slope.” This work remains the most authoritative contemporary reference to the flora of Colorado and each volume fits easily into a backpack for research in the field.

Weber has remained steadfast in his dedication to his students, emphasizing field studies and mentoring many – many of whom went on to become leaders in their own fields. This unwavering dedication was recently honored with the Wright Family Foundation William A. Weber Endowed Fund for Children’s Education in Natural Sciences, which will be administered by the CU Museum of Natural History to support natural science education programs for children that foster exploration, appreciation and love of the natural environment in all its diversity.

Weber donated to the University Libraries Special Collections an extraordinary 14 volume set on the disciples of Linnaeus who traveled the world collecting and documenting flora and fauna. Weber also gifted Special Collections with a sepia photograph of Alfred Russel Wallace, co-publisher along with Darwin on the theory of evolution. The photograph is accompanied with a postcard written by Wallace to Theodore Dru Alison Cockerell, an entomologist and professor of systematic zoology at the University of Colorado, from 1906-1934.  Cockerell, along with Junius Henderson, helped establish the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. Although retired, Weber, who still resides in Boulder, visits the campus frequently. He will join the event in his honor, which is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Please join the University of Colorado Libraries and the Friends of the Libraries to celebrate Weber’s lifetime achievements on Wednesday November 12 at 4:30 p.m. on the Norlin Library fifth floor and enjoy the following speakers: James F. Williams, dean and director, University Libraries; Rebecca Hufft Kao, manager, conservation programs, Denver Botanic Gardens; Erin Tripp, assistant professor, curator of botany, CU Museum of Natural History Herbarium; and Pat Kociolek, director, CU Museum of Natural History.


For more information, please contact Mary Jane Campbell at maryjane.campbell@colorado.edu or 303-492-7511.


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