William R. Dudley

(1849 - 1911)

William Russel Dudley was a student and then instructor of botany in the early days of Cornell's teaching programs.   An inspiring teacher, he encouraged and supported his many students.  His love of nature, his keen intellect, and his genuine wholesomeness were Dudley's greatest attributes influencing all those around him.

William R. Dudley was born on March 1, 1849 in Guilford, Connecticut.  He attended Cornell University (newly opened in 1868) and received his bachelor's degree in 1874 and his master's degree in 1876.  During his education at Cornell, Dudley was also instructor of botany from 1873 to 1876.  He was then made assistant professor of botany, an appointment he held until 1892.  In 1893, Dudley accepted a position to become professor of systematic botany at Stanford University.  He remained in that post until his retirement in 1910, at which time he was given professor emeritus status.

Dudley spent twenty years in a teaching capacity while at Cornell University.  His understanding of the eastern flora made him an exceptional teacher, and his passion for botany made him approachable by all his students.  Because of his kind and congenial nature, Dudley quickly became a sought-after professor upon his arrival at Stanford University.  Several of his students from both institutions would go on to become leading botanists in the country.  Constantly teaching and doing field work, Dudley published little.  One of his few papers was Cayuga Flora, published in 1886 while at Cornell, and was the first catalogue of the region's wild plants.

While at Stanford, Dudley began to study the flora of California.  He spent time in the Sierra Mountains and focused much field work on conifers.  He was able to persuade the Forest Service of California to purchase 2,500 acres of land in order to preserve a forest of redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens).  Located in Santa Cruz county, the preserve was established as a state forest and named the "Big Basin Park".


For further information please see:

Dudley Memorial Volume. 1913.  Leland Stanford Junior University Publications, University Series, Stanford University, CA

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