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John Reitman

By John Reitman

End of an era: After nearly 40 years, Clarke retires from Rutgers


Bruce Clarke (left) with his former doctoral student James Hempfling, has retired from Rutgers University. Photo credit: Steve Boyle/Courtesy of U.S. Golf Association

Anthracnose probably just breathed a sigh of relief.

Bruce Clarke, Ph.D., who has been the leading voice in anthracnose research and control since he joined the Rutgers University faculty in 1982, recently announced his retirement.

Clarke, extension specialist in turfgrass pathology in the Department of Plant Biology, retired on January 1. Since Clarke started at Rutgers as an undergraduate in 1973, the school in New Brunswick, New Jersey has been the epicenter of his entire academic and professional career. He earned a bachelor's degree in forest management in 1977 and a doctorate in plant pathology in 1982, after which time he joined the faculty as an assistant extension specialist.

A leading authority in turgrass pathology, Clarke authored or co-authored 90 refereed journal articles, more than 200 industry publications and secured more than $20 million in grants and contracts to support his research and extension programs. He also edited four books, including the second, third and (soon-to-be released) fourth edition of the Compendium of Turfgrass Diseases. Clarke’s research and extension work focused on the identification and control of turfgrass diseases - most notably anthracnose, summer patch, dollar spot, and gray leaf spot - and best management practices designed to help turf managers reduce fungicide use.

He has presented his research to audiences in 50 states and more than 20 countries.

Clarke served as the chair of the Department of Plant Pathology at Rutgers from 1999 to 2001 and again from 2011 to 2014, and also was vice chair of the department from 2001 to 2011. He was president of the Northeastern Division of the American Phytopathological Society from 1999 to 2000, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Turfgrass Society from 2001 to 2009 and ITS president from 2013 to 2017.

Awards and honors include: elected Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy (2004) and the Crop Science Society of America (2006); USGA Green Section Award (2016); CSSA Grau Turfgrass Science Award (2016); GCSAA Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award (2014); New Jersey Turfgrass Association Hall of Fame (1996).

He will continue to serve on the graduate committees of several former students, raising funds for the Center for Turfgrass Science and teaching in the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School’s Two-Year Certificate Program.

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