Herman Cohen was an accomplished horticultural professional whose life and career touched almost all areas of horticultural science, including gardening, plant breeding, landscapes, floriculture, and plant and soil relationships. His son, Jerry Cohen, a professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota, is keeping his father’s legacy and love of horticulture alive by establishing the Herman Charles Cohen fund for graduate education.
Professor Cohen credits his father with instilling a passion for education in him and celebrating his successes. When he would visit his father’s place of retirement in Arizona, Professor Cohen’s 2013 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education would be sitting where it couldn’t be missed: right atop the television set. For Herman, the award was not only a great point of pride in his son, but a welcome reminder of the importance of higher education and dedicated teachers.
From a student job with the melon breeding program at the College of Agriculture in Davis, California, to being the first college graduate in his immediate family, to retiring as the Vice President of the California Soil and Water Conservation Society, Herman Cohen’s professional life was filled with incredible variety and distinction. He served in the US Navy, established one of the first flower farms south of San Francisco, and eventually held several important positions in the USDA’s Soil Conservation Service. He was an early leader in ecosystem services and an award-winning public servant. Moreover, Herman was an active community member, a 4H instructor, and the winner of numerous blue ribbons for his landscape exhibits.
This year, in honor of his father’s lifelong interest in supporting higher education, Professor Cohen has worked with the University to establish an endowment fund with an initial gift of $100,000 in his father’s name. The Herman Charles Cohen fund will be used to provide dissertation improvement funds to a worthy Ph.D. student in the Department of Horticultural Science each year. The award will be used for the “behind-the-scenes” activities that go into crafting an outstanding dissertation, including conference travel and lab testing expenses.
“It’s a fitting way for an instructor to give back,” noted Professor Cohen, adding that while this particular gift fills a very specific need for graduate students, there are many ways to support graduate and undergraduate education at the department level. One-time or recurring gifts to support scholarship and fellowship funds are a great way to make a make a big difference in a student’s life, and any gift can be made in memorial of a loved one.
Please join us in thanking Professor Cohen and honoring his father Herman. We couldn’t be more excited to start putting these funds to good use by awarding them to a deserving student each year.