OSU’s 12th president continued his impact as a volunteer and philanthropist
Oregon State University President Emeritus John V. Byrne will be remembered for his commitment to excellence and advancing the university’s global reputation. In addition to his far-reaching impact as a scientist, educator and administrator, his leadership as a philanthropist and volunteer made a lasting impact on the university and the Corvallis community. Byrne died on Jan. 11 at age 95. Read the OSU announcement.
A marine geologist with degrees from Hamilton College, Columbia University and the University of Southern California, Byrne began teaching at Oregon State in 1960, eventually becoming the first dean of oceanography, a program that is now part of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS). After serving as the leader of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington, D.C., he returned to Corvallis to serve as the university president in 1984. OSU has been recognized among the top three oceanography programs in the world, and two other OSU-affiliated leaders, Jane Lubchenco and Rick Spinrad, have followed in Byrne’s footsteps to lead NOAA.
While Byrne will be remembered for his leadership and focus on promoting and supporting the university’s distinction, he was also kind and had a great sense of humor, Scoville said. “John, along with emeriti presidents Ed Ray and Becky Johnson, made remarks at the OSU Foundation’s 75th anniversary celebration last May. He took the opportunity, with tongue in cheek, to ‘set the record straight.’ He stole the show,” Scoville said. “He and Shirley continued to ‘show up’ for OSU long after his presidency. But what I will most remember about John is that he made everyone he met feel special. I will miss him.”
Byrne was preceded in death by a daughter, Lisa Kay Barnhardt (Mike Barnhardt, deceased), and is survived by his wife Shirley, daughters Donna Byrne and Karen Byrne (Mike Dickey), son Steven Byrne (Holly) and four grandchildren: Adiv Paradise, Liat Paradise, Lauren Byrne and Quentin Byrne.
- John and Shirley Byrne College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS) Endowment Fund
- John and Shirley Byrne OSU Library Support Endowment Fund
- Shirley and John Byrne Music Scholarship Endowment Fund
- Shirley and John Byrne Piano Series Endowment Fund
Photo: John Byrne made remarks at the OSU Foundation's 75th anniversary celebration in May 2023.