Verhalen, Laval 2009

Verhalen, Laval 2009

Verhalen, Laval 2009Dr. Laval M. Verhalen grew up on a farm near Knox City, Texas. He attended schools in Knox City and graduated as valedictorian from Knox City High School in 1959. After graduation he attended Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock, Texas and received a B.S. in Agronomy (with honors) in 1963.  He was voted the "Outstanding Agronomy Senior" by the Tech Agronomy faculty and one of three "Aggies of the Year" by the Tech Aggie Council.

Laval came to OSU in 1963 to do graduate work and soon became an integral part of the Department of Agronomy . He worked for four years as a Graduate Research Assistant in Cotton Breeding and Genetics and then became an Instructor before receiving his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics in 1968. After finishing his Ph.D., Laval joined the faculty at OSU and rose through the ranks, becoming a Full Professor in 1977. His entire professional life was devoted to cotton.

Laval served as Associate Editor for Crop Science (twice); Chairman - 261 Annual Cotton Improvement Conference; President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer of Sigma Xi (OSU Chapter) ; and Secretary and Chairperson of the Biological Science Group of the Graduate Faculty. In the department, Laval served on a number of committees, but may be best remembered for his many years of service as a member of the Faculty and Staff Awards and Recognition Committee. In this capacity he was responsible for nominating numerous individuals for awards and recognitions (many of whom won the award they were nominated for). He was always careful to give recognition and respect to all he worked with - whether they be field personnel at the experiment stations, secretaries and administrative personnel in the department, students, or colleagues.

Laval's service to the Stillwater community was an important part of who he was and what he will be remembered for. He served as a girls softball coach for Stillwater Parks and Recreation teams for  30 years.  He also served as a soccer coach for 11 years, a basketball coach for 9 years, and a baseball coach for 1 year. Many families in the Stillwater area have been touched by his kindness and compassion toward their children. In 2003, Laval was inducted into the Oklahoma ASA Softball Hall of Fame in the Coach/Manager category. Laval's coaching interests extended to academics as well. He served for 10 years as an assistant coach for Academic Bowl Teams, first at Perkins-Tryon High School and later at Cushing High School. Laval was well known and respected for his ability and his willingness to serve as an editor and reviewer . He spent many hours reviewing manuscripts and dissertations for colleagues and students. Who can forget seeing one of his edited manuscripts with its carefully annotated comments and corrections in red, blue, green, black, and sometimes even orange ink? It has been said that not even the English Department was as thorough in its reviews as Laval was.

Dr. Verhalen taught PLNT 4783 "Cotton Production", AGRON 6624 "Classical Evolution", PLNT 5110 "Plant Breeding Methods", as well as numerous other courses at the Junior, Senior , and Graduate levels. In 1994 he was rewarded with the Outstanding Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching in the Department of Agronomy . Laval served as major advisor to 6 M.S. and 18 Ph.D. graduate students and served on 61 other graduate students' committees.

Dr. Verhalen did extensive research in cotton breeding and genetics , variety testing, and cultural studies as well as cooperative research with plant pathologists, entomologists , weed control researchers, agricultural economists, a biochemist, plus many others. In 1988 Dr. Verhalen was the recipient of the Cotton Genetics Research Award awarded by the National Cotton Council in recognition of his many contributions to the field.

Laval Verhalen retired June 2, 2008 , from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences after 41 years of service on the Faculty. Thus far he has published 45 journal articles, 129 assorted other publications, and 63 progress reports in field day publications. He is continuing to write in his retirement.