Michael A. Dirr

Endowed Professorship for Woody Plant Instruction and Introduction

Dr. Michael A. Dirr

Dr. Michael A. Dirr's lifelong passion for horticulture has positively influenced a generation of students, gardeners, nurserymen, and professional horticulturists. His teaching, research, and writing have made an immeasurable impact on the Green Industry, not only in Georgia, but throughout the Nation. Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants is the leading horticultural text and reference work, and, along with his Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation, has become the "Bible" for the landscape and nursery industry. Dirr's Photo-Library of Woody Landscape Plants on CD-ROM is recognized as the premier collection of plant images compiled on CD-ROM.  

His teaching prowess has been recognized by departmental, college, and national awards such as the American Nursery and Landscape Association L.C. Chadwick Outstanding Educator Award. He has received numerous national awards that recognize extraordinary achievement: The Massachusetts Horticultural Society Silver Medal for Excellence in Horticultural Writing, The Medal of Honor from the Garden Club of America, the Linnaeus Award from the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Georgia Green Industry Lifetime Membership Award. Dr. Dirr is also the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Massachusetts.

Recognized as the number one academic contributor to the Landscape Industry by Landscape Management magazine, he has presented hundreds of lectures to colleges, industry groups, and garden organizations. Dr. Dirr fostered the Georgia Plant Introduction Program, a program which has been widely emulated by other states.

Dirr's Plant Introduction Program has contributed over 50 new plant introductions to the Green Industry including the widely acclaimed Bignonia capreolata 'Jekyll', Buddleia x weyeriana 'Honeycomb', Fothergilla major 'Mt. Airy', Hydrangea quercifolia 'Alice', Ulmus parvifolia Alldée® and Athena® and Viburnum bracteatum 'Emerald Luster'.

Currently, the program focuses on controlled breeding of Abelia, Buddleia, Hydrangea, Chamaecyparis, Clethra, Osmanthus, Lagerstroemia, Cephalotaxus, and Itea. These genera offer significant potential for the selection of commercial, garden worthy cultivars.

Dr. Dirr has been generous with his time and resources, sharing a love of plants with students, amateurs, and professionals in the Green Industry. As a tribute to his contributions, the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia is establishing the Michael A. Dirr Endowed Professorship for Woody Plant Instruction and Introduction. To establish an endowed professorship, a minimum of $250,000 must be raised for an endowed fund. The endowment will perpetuate the work and influence of the woody ornamental plant position in the Department of Horticulture. The establishment of the professorship will insure that there will be future faculty members in this position to serve the industry and embody the commitment to teaching, research, and woody plant introduction exemplified by Dr. Dirr.