College of Natural Sciences

Distinguished Emeriti

2007–2008: Wes Dempsey

Dr. Dempsey served as Professor of Biological Sciences at Chico State for 38 years, from 1954-1992. Since retiring, he has held the title of Professor Emeritus. Highlights of his career include an NSF Science Faculty Fellowship in Genetics while he was at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and visiting professorships at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, from 1980 to 1981 as well as at the University of Western Australia in Perth in 1987.

While at Chico State, this well-loved professor taught field biology summer courses at the Eagle Lake Field Station from 1979 through 1991 in addition to a wide variety of regular courses and labs in the biological sciences. He currently serves on the campus Arboretum Committee and was instrumental in the development of Campus Trees: Map and Guide, a comprehensive map with locations and descriptions of every tree in the campus arboretum, published in 2001. He is a well-known tour guide of Campus Arboretum tours throughout the academic year and has led 1,000 plus field trips featuring vernal pools, wildflowers, Native American use of local plants, and local ecology for community organizations such as the local schools, Sierra Club, Boy Scouts, and the Chico Creek Nature Center, to name just a few. He has given lectures to groups both near and far, including the Altacal Audubon Society, the California Native Plant Society, and Rotary, as well as many institutions of higher learning throughout the state.

Dr. Dempsey has been an inspiration to thousands of students as well as to his many colleagues. Dr. Ailsie McEnteggart, Chair of Biological Sciences, said this about Dr. Dempsey: "Wes's continuing involvement since his retirement in many conservation projects in the community as well as in campus life through his popular Arboretum tours and plantings of native species on the south side of Holt Hall is an amazing commitment. I can think of no one more deserving of this honor and am delighted at this recognition of his life's work."

Dr. Dempsey and his wife, Phyllis, have four grown sons. Donations to a fund in his honor to benefit the Campus Arboretum may be sent to the Biology Office care of Dr. Jeffrey Bell, Chair, CSU, Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0515. Checks may be made out to "CSU, Chico University Foundation."