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Foundation Plant Services News

Winery owners' gift supports clean, sustainable agriculture
Christine Schmidt

Dean Dillard arrived at Foundation Plant Services (FPS) Monday morning expecting to attend a meeting to discuss FPS's work on behalf of the grape industry with Director Deborah Golino and John Dyson, owner of Williams Selyem Winery. So she was quite surprised when John announced his intention to give his first gift to UC Davis $500,000 toward a new endowed chair.

"I am giving this gift to honor the Deanship of my friend Helene", Dyson said in making the surprise announcement. "and to recognize Deborah Golino who has taken on a challenging position and has instituted rigorous science to give wineries clean vines. I have a great deal of respect for her work." A New York native, Dyson worked closely with Dean Dillard while she was Director of Cooperative Extension and on the faculty at Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. His relationship with Foundation Plant Services goes back even further to when he purchased cuttings from the foundation for "a nickel a piece"" in the 1980s to plant his first vineyards. Since then, Dyson has relied on the scientists at FPS to provide grape propagating material and to help him tackle challenges that face all growers, like plant and soil disease.

"This is an incredible investment in our program,"" said Golino. "An endowed chair will ensure UC Davis will always be able to recruit a top scientist to lead FPS and continue to provide exceptional plant materials to the grape, rose, strawberry and other industries who rely on us."

Mr. Dyson's gift is the first toward a larger $1.5 million campaign to create the Foundation Plant Services Endowed Chair. Ultimately, the chair holder will serve as the director of FPS and become a faculty member in the Department of Plant Pathology.