Faculty and staff in the College of Science and across Weber State University were saddened to learn that a former dean of the college, Dr. Cyrus M. McKell, was killed Wednesday night in an automobile-pedestrian accident in front of his condominium in Holladay, Utah.
Cy, as he was known, served as dean of the College of Science from 1988 until his retirement in 1994. He was an emeritus faculty member in the Department of Botany.
Dr. McKell was an expert in arid lands ecosystems and native plants and was involved in research and consulting throughout the world, including association with United Nations committees.
Dr. McKell authored or co-authored numerous papers throughout his career. While at WSU, Dr. McKell served as co-editor of the book, “Wilderness Issues in the Arid Lands of the Western United States,” with Dr. Samuel I. Zeveloff, chair of the Department of Zoology. The book was published by the University of New Mexico Press in 1992 as an outgrowth of a national symposium sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Following his retirement, Dr. McKell continued to work with WSU faculty. In 1999 he co-authored a paper with Dr. Mohammad Sondossi (microbiology) and Dr. E. Park Guymon (chemistry), “Recycling Used Engine Oil Filters: An Integrated Approach,” which was presented by Dr. Sondossi at the 11th International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Symposium in Arlington, Va.
During his time as dean at WSU, Dr. McKell was instrumental in moving the college in the direction of strengthening the research activities of the faculty, while at the same time maintaining the student-centered focus on teaching and learning. This effort led the way for the strong undergraduate research activities that we see in the College of Science today.
Dr. McKell received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Utah in 1949 and 1950, respectively, and his doctorate from Oregon State University. During his career he worked at the University of California-Riverside and at Utah State University, before coming to WSU.
Although Dr. McKell had traveled extensively in his work on arid lands, and had worked at several other institutions, he remained connected to Weber State University, establishing the McKell scholarship in the Department of Botany.
We were blessed with the opportunity of visiting with Cy just last month at the annual College of Science awards program.Cy was on campus to present his scholarship to this year’s recipient.
Cy will be deeply missed by all who knew him.