Otterbein TRHT Oral History Project
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Safiya Mohamed; Margaret Koehler
Oral History Interview
Number of Interviews
Black Alumni, TRHT, 1966-1970 Education, Agriculture, Science
Dr. Eunice Foster was born in Georgia and grew up in Columbus, OH. She attended Otterbein in the late 1960s and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education in 1970. After working as a teacher at Main Street Elementary School in Columbus for several years, she embarked on what would become a distinguished academic career in the field of Agriculture. Dr. Foster is Professor and crop physiologist in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Science at Michigan State University. She served as the first African American and the first female associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Her research is on drought resistance and nitrogen utilization in soybean, dry beans, Bambara groundnut, and cover crops in corn. She led the establishment and implementation of Michigan State’s China Turfgrass Program, which partnered with several Chinse universities. Dr. Foster is a founding member of the national society for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) and served as its first president. Today, the organization has 65 chapters in 35 states, expanding Dr. Foster’s goal to advance diversity in the next generation of agricultural scientists. She is PI on an NSF S-STEM grant called “Careers in Food, Energy, and the Environment: An Interdisciplinary Approach.” In 2021 she was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science – one of the most prestigious distinctions in science.
This interview begins with Dr. Eunice Foster’s childhood move with her family from Georgia to Columbus, OH as part of the Great Migration. Dr. Foster describes her experience at Otterbein College in the years 1966-1970, majoring in Elementary Education and participating in Drill Team and the campus newspaper. She discusses political divisions in the 1960s, interracial dating at Otterbein, tutoring in urban Columbus, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She recalls warm relations between African and African American students at Otterbein in the 1960s, including memories of dances held by African students at Ohio State University. Dr. Foster reflects on her own role as an educator and a pioneer in diversifying the field of Agricultural Science. Her own experience as a student has clearly shaped her lifelong advocacy for students and communities of color.
Foster, Eunice, "Foster, Eunice (Dr.). Interview, Class 1972" (2022). TRHT Oral History Project. 1.