CORVALLIS - Robert Witters, an Oregon State University agricultural research administrator, has been honored by the Oregon Potato Commission with a lifetime achievement award for his long-time help to researchers who were developing new Northwest potato varieties.

"Our involvement with Dr. Witters included a great deal of work with the Northwest Potato Varieties development committee, which seeks to create new, disease-resistant, higher-yield (potato) varieties," said William Wise, the administrator of the Oregon Potato Commission, one of 29 state commodity commissions.

Alvin Mosley, an OSU associate professor of crop and soil science and long-time colleague of Witters, said his background in farming, cereal and legume research may have given Witters a deeper understanding of what potato growers and researchers face.

"The growers wanted to recognize Bob for years of service and feel that he, as a university administrator, really understands issues that are important to (potato) producers in our state," Mosley said.

Witters began his career as a crop physiologist, but he shifted to research administration when he came to Oregon State University in 1977. He soon was appointed to serve as the College of Agricultural Sciences' representative as an ex official member of the Potato Commission.

It was Witters' dedication that brought him to the attention of the potato growers over the years, Wise said. For example, during a personal vacation to Japan last fall, Witters took time to meet with delegates in the American Embassy. Witters urged them to renew talks with their Japanese counterparts about opening up Japanese import markets to Oregon fresh potatoes.

Witters said that he did not expect an award for his work, but found it "extremely gratifying."

"I was greatly surprised and greatly honored," he said. "It brought a lot of good feelings with it."

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Robert Witters, 541-737-4251