Dr. Peter Raven
, the director of the Missouri Botanical Garden
, announced today that he is retiring.
The garden's board of directors has hired Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson
, director of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland
, in Dublin, to take the reins.
Raven may not be a household name, but he's a celebrity in botanical circles, the recipient of bushels of awards including the U.S. Medal of Science and a lecturer on biodiversity who racks up many thousands of frequent flier miles every year. Raven took the helm of the garden four whole decades ago -- at the age of 35! -- and has funneled millions and millions of dollars its way ever since.
Garden staff called to a meeting learned of his retirement today and
honored him with a standing ovation as he took the podium.
"Dr. Raven explained the transition period," says spokeswoman Karen Hagenow. "He was an integral part in the selection process and he let us know that, and he's very pleased with the choice [of Dr. Wyse Jackson]. He's known Dr. Wyse Jackson since the 1980s and is quite acquainted with him. So it's bittersweet."
Raven will stay on as "president emeritus" through mid-2011 to help the new director, who arrives September 1 this year, get acclimated.