A longtime Washington State University Extension plant pathologist is the recipient of a $3 million endowment to create a new chair. Tim Murray is a plant pathologist and chair of the Department of Plant Pathology and has been with WSU since 1983. The endowment is funded by a grant from the Rosalie and Harold Rea Brown Foundation, and it will create the Rosalie and Harold Rea Brown distinguished endowed chair in plant pathology.
The investment from the foundation is directed toward reducing crop losses due to plant diseases, and it will help improve food security. Lisa Calvert, WSU Foundation CEO and vice president of advancement, calls the gift “transformational for the program, for WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resources Sciences and for Washington State University.”
André-Denis Wright, CAHNRS dean, notes that Murray is the best choice to hold this chair. “His research is already helping improve food security, and the additional resources from this endowment will continue that for years to come,” he says.
Murray is also the grandson of Rosalie Marie and Harold Rea Brown.
Gift involves 3 generations of family
In commenting on the gift in a media announcement, Murray notes, “This donation means so much to the department and me personally. It will help with the work I do on food security issues, and it will help future scientists in the department to conduct translational research. It is also personally rewarding, knowing that my grandparents’ names will be associated with WSU research that is helping feed the world.”
The foundation and this endowed chair are funded by businessman Harold Brown, but are named for his parents, Murray’s grandparents. Rosalie Brown was a native of Belgium and emigrated to the U.S. when less than a year old. Harold Rea Brown was a native Washingtonian, born in Seattle to a family who homesteaded in the Wenatchee area.
Brown adds that he has been fortunate to do well in business, “and now, through my efforts as trustee of the Rosalie and Harold Rea Brown Foundation, I want to give back to a cause that is not only personally important to me, but addresses a great need in society — food security."
Murray is a WSU alumnus and career-long Cougar. He received his bachelor’s degree in plant science from the University of California, Davis, in 1978; his master’s degree in plant pathology from WSU in 1980; and his doctorate in plant pathology from WSU in 1983. He joined the WSU faculty that same year. He previously served as chair of the department from 2000 to 2008, and took over again in 2019.
His research focuses on wheat diseases, pathogen resistance and sustainable methods of disease management. Murray has published more than 100 scientific papers and nearly 300 technical and popular press articles, abstracts and book chapters. He is also the author and editor of four books. He is a fellow and past president of the American Phytopathological Society.