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Fellowship Honors Retired Agriculture Research Teacher

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
September 26, 2007

George Frick explains the success he had during his 35 years working with UNH graduate students this way: he picked the smart ones. And the way the retired adjunct professor tells it, they all were.

But that’s making his job sound easy. The reality is, the agricultural economist was dedicated to the students he got to know through teaching and advising, going so far as to bring them home for dinner because he knew they didn’t have very much money. Sometimes he would go dig oysters and then give them to the students, or take them hunting or fishing on Great Bay and let them keep the catch.

Those are just a few examples of the acts that led former students and colleagues to honor him with the establishment of the George “Curly” Frick Endowed Fellowship for Resource Economics, which Frick learned about last week during a celebration at the Elliott Alumni Center.

“I figure I can lie down and die now,” Frick says of the Sept. 20 evening. “This is quite an honor, particularly because I wasn’t a regular faculty member; I was an adjunct. And here I thought I was mean to all those grad students.”

Hardly. Several former students who attended the honorary event spoke of all Frick had done for them. Many traveled great distances to be there. Some, Frick says, became emotional when they got up to speak.

“They had these stories of how I saved them; of how they were ready to give up,” Frick says. “I had no idea at the time. I’d be on these thesis committees and I’d yell at them, trying to make them better.”

Frick taught resource economics in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture from 1957 to 1992 while also serving as an economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In the past, it was common practice for the federal agency to place their people at land-grant schools to collaborate on research projects.

He was also instrumental in launching the university’s Institute of Natural and Environmental Resources (INER), a multi-disciplinary program in wildlife, forestry, soils, hydrology and resource economics.

The Durham resident was 28 years old when he first came to UNH in 1948 on a joint appointment with the university and the Department of Agriculture. He worked with his first graduate student in 1954. That man, now 75 years old, has become a friend.

“He comes up and stays with me twice a year,” Frick says. “I had another one that’s a farmer with 6,000 acres. They’re all smart. I was lucky. That’s how you do it; you pick smart people and you succeed.”

During his lengthy career, Frick worked to preserve and renew natural resources for industry, agriculture and recreational use while inspiring and mentoring students.

The first Frick fellow will be named next year. Thus far, the fund exceeds $50,000.

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