of Richard Cellarius

[As compiled from historical documents and previous autobiographical sketches]

I was born during the depression on the same date (but not in the same year) as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and I am a second-generation native Californian. I am proud of my Scotch (Gillies), Swedish (Anderson) and German (Keller/Cellarius) heritage.  My dad was working as a fruit inspector for the California Department of Agriculture when I was born, but ended up as an accountant most of his life. Both my parents worked (they were divorced when I was 11), and until the seventh grade I attended private boarding schools; after that I went to public school, graduating from the academic high school in San Francisco, where my mother had a custom sewing and gift shop. Through frequent family skiing and hiking trips and many summers spent at a Y-camp as a camper and counselor, I came to the decision that I wanted to become a forester. I never did. My mother wanted me to go to Cal Tech and become a doctor or engineer. I didn't do that either. I never lived outside a 50-mile radius from where I was born until I went to college. There I met my present wife and was written up as the "campus hero" in a national magazine. After that we've lived in cities from coast to coast. After 27 years in Olympia, Washington, we  moved to Prescott, Arizona.. My mother was never sure I  made the right choices, but she might approve of our move to the Southwest.  We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with our daughters Barbara and Karen and grandson Zachary Shanidar Cellarius Shekhani in June 2009.

My training has been in both physics (as an undergraduate at Reed College) and biology (in graduate school at The Rockefeller University in New York City). My particular research interest has been in the details of photosynthesis--a mixture of physical, chemical, and biological questing into the stuff that makes plants green. I've also published one book, a self-paced learning program in thermodynamics for students of biology.

I was Member of the Faculty at The Evergreen State College from 1972 to 1999, when I retired and was conferred the title Emeritus Member of the Faculty by the Board of Trustees. My academic interests include photosynthesis, tree physiology, forest ecology and management, and environmental history, philosophy and policy. Before jointing the Evergreen faculty, I was an Assistant Professor of Botany at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and was promoted to Associate Professor (tenured position). The real botanists didn't know what to make of me.

I went to Evergreen with a sense of hope and excitement--hope that there I could realize the goal of making science something other than an abstract discipline; excitement that a school existed where I could do something other than regurgitate verbally for 750 sleeping students the concepts and facts that a better person than I had spent five years putting into an excellent text, and that I was at that school.  I wrote that in 1972. I stayed for 27 years and had no inclination to look elsewhere. I  taught everything from writing and philosophy to physiology and ecology. I helped design the Graduate Program in Environmental Studies (MES) program and taught the first Case Studies class with Carolyn Dobbs.  I taught two full years of MES core in 1990-92 and returned to MES and served as director from 1995 to 1999.  I currently still do a little teaching in Prescott College's nonresident Master of Arts Program (MAP) and Ph.D. Program in Sustainability Education, and was the (interim) Chair of the MAP degree Program in Environmental Studies in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. 

In addition to my teaching, I have spent the last 31 years as an active volunteer in the Sierra Club . This culminated in my serving as President of Sierra Club from 1988-1990. I served as a Director for 16 years altogether and still travel regularly to Sierra Club meetings. I have also chaired the Club's Publications and International Committees, and was Vice President for Research for two years. In 2001, I was elected as an Honorary Vice President of the Club by the Board of Directors.  The primary Sierra Club 'hat' I wear at the moment is as International Vice President—Organizational Relations, with a primary focus on Sierra Club membership in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  In IUCN, I am now the Finance Office of IUCN's Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP).  My main interests in IUCN and CEESP include the social and environmental responsibility of the Private Sector and societal actions to promote global environmental sustainability.

A related activity to my Sierra Club involvement was my past service as a Trustee of The Sierra Club Foundation, an independent tax deductable ("501(c)(3)") organization that supports the educational and charitable projects of the Sierra Club.  I served on the Foundation Board 1988—1996 and 1997-2003, and have served as its Treasurer and member of the Executive Committee.

I have participated in environmental campaigns and policy development on such topics as NEPA, renewable energy, and forest protection, including presenting testimony at Congressional hearings.  I have also been active in political campaigns for candidates with strong environmental protection platforms.

I told my students that they have every right to expect me to be academically rigorous and demanding so that they can gain as much as possible from their classes. I expect them to stretch themselves and their abilities so that maximal growth will occur. Students can also look forward to my being as friendly, kind, loyal, reverent, etc. as is possible for a person who has never been a Boy Scout (but many summers at that YMCA camp in the California redwoods might substitute).  For further insights, read Caring for the Earth: A Guide to Sustainable Living,The Zen of Seeing, The Universal Traveler, Earthwalk, Ecoscience , Nature's Economy , My First Summer in the Sierra, A Sand County Almanac , Deep Ecology, Sierra Club: 100 Years of Protecting Nature , The Elements of Style, Plant Physiology and/or Introduction to Bioenergetics: Thermodynamics for the Biologist (full references on request). I am easily bribed by good works (writing, images, cookies, etc.), some of which might influence a student's evaluation.

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Last Revised on April 26, 2011, by Richard Cellarius