Sea Changes at Sea Grant

Quoting entirely from Sea Grant Communications Director Joe Cone’s email in my in-box this morning:

Oregon Sea Grant director Dr. Robert E. Malouf has announced he will retire Feb. 1 after 16 years leading the marine research, outreach, and education program based at Oregon State University (OSU).

Oregon Sea Grant is the largest of OSU’s institutes and programs. Malouf has had overall responsibility for all of Sea Grant’s activities, including its competitive grants, the Visitor Center of the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, and very active programs in communication, education and extension. Oregon Sea Grant employs more than 40 people on a budget that exceeds $5 million in state and federal funds annually.

Under Malouf’s leadership, Oregon Sea Grant has been consistently ranked as one of the very best Sea Grant programs in the nation in formal reviews. The last review (in 2005) put it simply: “Dr. Malouf has set a high standard for this program, and it has been met.” The national review panel further cited the program as demonstrating several national “best management practices,” including strategic planning, decision-making, and program integration, all articulated and developed by Malouf.

The national recruitment and selection process for Malouf’s successor has recently begun. It is chaired by the OSU Associate Vice President for Research, Rich Holdren.

A native of Montana, Malouf’s affiliation with Oregon Sea Grant started in the program’s first year, 1968, when he received support as a new OSU master’s student in Fisheries. After earning his Ph.D. in Fisheries from OSU he joined the faculty of the Marine Sciences Research Center of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook. While there from 1977 to 1991 he taught courses in marine fisheries, shellfisheries, and aquaculture. In 1987 he was named director of the New York Sea Grant Institute; he held that position until he succeeded Oregon Sea Grant’s original director, William Wick, on Wick’s retirement in 1991.

For more than 10 years Malouf served as a member of Oregon’s Ocean Policy Advisory Council and chaired the Council’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee. He has had numerous leadership positions with other state and national organizations. (Malouf’s own area of technical expertise is in the biology and ecology of marine bivalve mollusks, which he is known to refer to, winsomely, as the “noblest of beasts.”)

For all the accomplishments of a rewarding career, Malouf is one academic leader who carries his accomplishments lightly. He is known to his staff as a superb listener, and he is eagerly sought as a mentor. He often talks about Sea Grant employees as a “family,” and is generous in praise and recognition of others. And then there’s his sense of humor.

Sly reflections, witticisms, verbal puzzles and overheard mixed-metaphors are his delight, and he’s collected them into a larval bestseller, Malouf’s Complete Guide to Sea Grant, Science, and Life. Here’s an unscientific sampling:

“Always remember that the fact that you are well educated does not mean that you are smart.”

“Strategic planning is good, but eventually we are going to have to actually do something.”

“If you can’t say anything nice you’d make an excellent peer reviewer.”


“Why do we call a dead person ‘late’ when we know that they aren’t going to arrive at all?”

“We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.”

“Scientists are not normal people, although to the untrained observer they might appear to be so, especially in their larval forms before they have fully developed.”

There’s no doubt that many at OSU and the national Sea Grant network will miss Bob Malouf, and though some might wonder, “Is he lost?”, others will reflect, “Maybe he did go back to Montana to be a shepherd.”

Bob, you’ll be sorely missed around these North Coast parts. May the sheep continue to be happy in Montana after you arrive to shepard them.


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