March 21, 2008

Former University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Department of Entomology Chair, the late Bobby Pass, made a lasting impression on the college, the university and entomology for more than 30 years. After his death, family members created the Bobby Pass Scholarship Fund to preserve his legacy. Pass’ son Kevin said his dad always hoped one day there would be a named professorship in entomology at UK, and now that wish has come true.

“Great departments don’t happen on their own,” said Kumble R. Subbaswamy, UK provost. “We recognize the value of the legacy he (Bobby Pass) is leaving behind.”

UK Entomologist Daniel Potter is the first Bobby C. Pass Research Professorship recipient. In a recent ceremony, Potter was recognized by his colleagues, UK administrators and his family for the accomplishments that led to this honor.

UK College of Agriculture Dean and Director Scott Smith, who shares hometown roots with Potter predating their high school years, said he is exceptional in his ability to contribute to every part of the land grant mission.

“There are people in this college who have contributed in so many ways, and we value their contributions, but there are only a few people who have contributed in all ways,” Smith said. “I’m talking about those who are great instructors, true scholars in research, and who also reach out to people we serve in Kentucky and in this country. I can count the people who excel in that way on a couple of hands, and Dan is definitely one of those. I’m really grateful for what he’s done.”

Before coming to UK nearly 30 years ago, Potter earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a doctorate from The Ohio State University. Currently he teaches horticultural entomology, an undergraduate course with lab, and insect-plant relationships, a graduate course. He has served as major professor for 34 graduate students and on the advisory committee for approximately 60 others.

Potter’s research focus is biology and management of insects impacting trees, shrubs and turf. He has published more than 160 refereed scientific articles, 19 book chapters and an original textbook. Potter also has been a keynote speaker at scientific conferences and educational seminars throughout the world. He received the Entomological Society of America’s national awards for teaching, urban entomology, and horticultural entomology, the UK College of Agriculture’s awards for teaching, research, and service to graduate students and numerous awards for service to Kentucky’s turf and landscape industries. His students have also received recognitions for research and leadership.

Bobby Pass’ son Kevin Pass actually was a student in Potter’s first class. He believes his father would be really happy to see Potter getting this honor.

“Thinking back to when I was a child and dad was department chair; I remember few things caused him more angst than when there wasn’t a whole lot of money available for raises. It seemed like most of his job was trying to find money in different places; so I know he’d be very pleased to know this professorship exists and to know that one of his favorites is receiving this award,” Pass said. “I know that would bring him a lot of joy. Dan shares a lot of traits with my father – a great work ethic and a high degree of productivity.”

Potter serves on the UK entomology faculty with his brother, Mike Potter. They credit Bobby Pass for creating a situation that brought their family to the same place. Their father retired from Cornell University, and he and his wife are now Kentucky residents. It allows the brothers to go fishing and share quality time with their family without having to travel all over the country. Daniel went on to describe Bobby Pass as his mentor and friend.

“He was a mentor … he was a motivator and a great visionary who had a great impact on my career,” he recalled. “I’ve had a few honors during my career, but I can think of no greater honor than being able to work in this department. We all know that it’s a tremendous department that bears his (Pass’) stamp. Having anything that is associated with his name associated with my name is a tremendous honor.”

Kevin Pass said he hopes that one day the fund will grow enough to support an endowed chair in entomology.