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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Renowned cotton researcher to receive honorary doctorate

Hubert B. Cooper Jr. of Shafter, Calif., an internationally recognized leader in cotton breeding research, will receive an honorary doctorate at New Mexico State University's Fall Commencement.

The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, in the Pan American Center on NMSU's main campus in Las Cruces. About 800 graduating students are expected to participate in the ceremony.

Cooper, an NMSU graduate, is being honored for his achievements in nearly four decades of research to improve cotton quality and productivity. Seventy to 80 percent of the cotton acreage in California's San Joaquin Valley is planted in Acala Maxxa, just one of many varieties developed by Cooper during his career.

Cooper first became interested in cotton breeding as an NMSU student in 1947, working with the legendary cotton breeder G. N. Stroman. He received his bachelor's degree in plant science at NMSU in 1951, served three years in the U.S. Air Force, and earned a master's degree at Colorado State University and a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin before returning to NMSU in 1960 as a faculty member and cotton breeder.

In 1964 he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the U.S. Cotton Research Station in Shafter, Calif., in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. He later carried on his work with the California Planting Cotton Seed Distributors and Phytogen, now operated by J.G. Boswell Co. A $2.5 million cotton research center he helped design for Boswell was named in his honor in 1996.

Cooper has been responsible for the development of every major cotton variety in the San Joaquin Valley since 1973 except one, and that lone exception was a direct selection from an advanced breeding strain he developed at the U.S. Cotton Research Station. Acala Maxxa represented a breakthrough for growers, combining earliness and high yield with high-quality fiber and spinning characteristics.

A native of Gallegos, N.M., Cooper is a graduate of Tucumcari High School. He married Oleta Johnson of Artesia in 1953 and they have one son and two grandsons.

Commencement rehearsal is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 12. Doors to the Pan Am Center will open at 12:30 p.m. for those attending the ceremony.