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Charles B. Beck
Regents' Proceedings 12

Charles B. Beck, professor of botany in the Department of Biology, professor of paleobotany in the Department of Geological Sciences, and curator in the Museum of Paleontology, will retire from active faculty status on August 31, 1991, following 35 years of service.

After serving in the U.S. Army from 1944-46, Professor Beck received his BA degree from the University of Richmond, in Virginia, in 1950. He then entered Cornell University, where he completed his M.S. degree in 1952 and his Ph.D. degree in 1955 under the guidance of Harlan Banks, a well-known paleobotanist and botany teacher.

Professor Beck came to the University of Michigan as an instructor in the Department of Botany in 1956; he was promoted to assistant professor in 1957, associate professor in 1960, and professor in 1965. In addition to teaching courses in general botany, vascular-plant anatomy, and paleobotany, he was active in departmental affairs, serving as chair of the department from 1971-75. Professor Beck was appointed curator of plant fossils in the Museum of Paleontology in 1980 and served as director of the museum from 1987-89.

Professor Beck has contributed significantly to the understanding of the morphology, anatomy, and evolutionary origin of seed plants. In 1960, he discovered that the Devonian fossils Archaeopteris, long believed to be ancient fern, and Callixylon, woody fragments previously thought to belong to a large conifer-like tree, were parts of the same ancient plant. For this plant and others like it, called seed ferns, he proposed the class Progymnospermopsida, which is now accepted as the ancestral group from which all other seed plants evolved. More recently, his work has analyzed the possible relationships of this group with both cycads and conifers. In collaboration with several colleagues, Professor Beck also studied the morphology of Archaeosperma, one of the earliest known seeds; redefined the basic homologies of the plant vascular system; and analyzed extensively the anatomy of seed ferns.

Recognition of Professor Beck's scholarship has come in the form of, among other things, research funding from the National Science Foundation, appointive offices in the Botanical Society of America, corresponding membership in the Chinese Botanical Society, and the presidency of the International Organization of Paleobotany (1987-93).

The Regents now salute this faculty member for his distinguished contributions by naming Charles B. Beck Professor Emeritus of Botany, Professor Emeritus of Paleobotany, and Curator Emeritus.