Stan Welsh

A Lifetime of Achievement in the Life Sciences

Dr. Stan Welsh Stan Welsh wrote the book, literally, on Utah flora (912 pages, 1987), and is a giant in botany and a legend at BYU. "Anyone fortunate enough to travel the road with Stan has been treated to his superb knowledge of literally every plant across the landscape," said Kent Crookston, dean of the College of Biology and Agricul­ture, "He has never-ending stories of how these plants featured in the settlement of the west. His sharp wit and eloquence flow like a refreshing mountain spring."

Lifetime achievement

Dr. Stan Welsh
A master teacher, Welsh has taught 25,000 students in his career.
Welsh said his most significant accomplishment is "marrying [his] wife Stella and raising eight children." He also likens his life to the story of a 95-year-old man who was asked if he had lived in one location all of his life. The man said, "Not yet!" Dr. Welsh feels the same— though he's accomplished much since coming to BYU 45 years ago, he isn't finished, yet.

"When I came to BYU in 1960," said Welsh, "the entire plant collection was only 25,000 sheets. Today we have nearly 500,000. In 1960 we had no flora that could be used to identify plants indigenous to Utah. By 1974 we had put together a key that would identify most plant species in the state and by 1987 published the first book that could identify the entire flora of the state." With the help of graduate students, Welsh has published three major flora books: Flora of Utah, Flora of Alaska, and Flora of the Society Islands. In 1996, Welsh was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters.

Master teacher

Welsh is a collector and a teacher, but one definitely takes priority. "I've personally collected about 5,000 plants," he said, "but I've taught possibly 25,000 students." He believes in his students and hopes they will excel. "My basic philosophy is lifting people up instead of putting them down," said Welsh. "I give them a jumping off point so they can exceed whatever I may have done."

Life beyond the classroom

Dr. Stan Welsh As former director of Bean Life Science Museum, Dr. Welsh helped the museums' collection of plants grow from 25,000 sheets to more than 500,000 sheets.
Welsh has always urged students to get out of the classroom and into nature. The summer after he started teaching, Welsh took his first graduate student to the Beaver Dam wash in southwestern Utah. Every year he went to the same place with more students. "The land is unique because its unusual combina­tion of geology, climate, elevation, and water supply supports many trees, shrubs, and wildlife," said Welsh. "It is a remarkable area of beauty and biological diversity."

This unique land was acquired by BYU in 1986 with funds provided by a very generous donor. Welsh was a key player in the transaction and the first to oversee the preserve. The 462-acre parcel—one of the West's most delicate ecosystems—was named the Lytle Pre­serve after former owner Talmage Lytle. Its numerous Mojave Desert plants and animals include pomegranates, figs, watermelon, desert tortoise, side­winder rattlesnake, Gila mon­ster, and 180 species of birds.

Welsh was director of the Bean Life Science Museum from 1988 to 1994. The col­lege named their world-class herbarium after him.