The Alfred H. Soeldner Fund will support students and ongoing programs in the Department.
Alfred H. SoeldnerAlfred H. Soeldner retired in December 2007 after over 40 years of service. Al joined the department as a research assistant in April 1966. He was promoted to Instructor in 1980 and then to Senior Instructor with tenure in 1989. His was one of the first promotion and tenure cases that I handled as a new department head in 1988 and it was readily evident how extraordinary Al’s contributions were to the department in both his capacity as manager of the Electron Microscope Facility and as an instructor, colleague, and friend to numerous students, faculty, and staff over the years.
Although no one had prepared me for the department providing the electron microscopy services for the entire university, it didn’t take me long to figure out what an asset Al was in making that possible. He proved to be resourceful in innumerable ways; he was handy with repairs to equipment as well as to helping write several successful grants to private foundations and to NSF for replacement transmission and scanning electron microscopes. Al was just as adept of taking on oversight for other facility and equipment issues and he was ready and willing to volunteer for just about any necessary duty that presented itself; including capturing notes from more than one faculty meeting.
Al was a very capable teacher and over the years, he helped train hundreds of students in both light and electron microscopy. Many of these were in one-on-one sessions in which he assisted students working on graduate research projects in a wide-range of disciplines. Al was also generous with his time, including precious weekend hours, to providing numerous tours of the facility, including demonstration of the instruments.
Establishing a stable funding for this university facility was a multi-year and continuing effort. It required documentation of use and expenditures and Al was diligent in providing the documentation necessary to make the case for assistance from other colleges and the research office. At one point, the facility was being used by 22 departments in 7 OSU colleges yet about 1/3 of the income came from outside users, most of them coming and then returning as a result of Al’s outstanding technical capability.
Al had a special talent that few were aware of and that I came to treasure. He had the ability to sit through sometimes long, arduous, and upon occasion, circular argument faculty meetings. After they were over, Al would surprise me by sending a quite brief and comprehensive synopsis of the main take-away points. He would often add a fresh perspective that contributed to moving the issue forward in its next venue. That was a special gift to the department.
We were most fortunate to have had Al as a faculty member of the department of botany and plant pathology, as well as a colleague and friend. Although Al “hung up” his official responsibilities at Oregon State University in December, he has continued to assist in planning for a new electron microscope facility that is scheduled to be located in the new Linus Pauling Science Center that will be constructed over the next few years to the west of Nash Hall.
by Stella Melugin Coakley