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CUCE-NYC director Donald Tobias dies at 68

Don Tobias

Donald Tobias, executive director of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension office in New York City (CUCE-NYC) since 2005, died Nov. 22 in New York City. He was 68.

“Robin and I are deeply saddened to have lost a treasured colleague and friend,” said President David J. Skorton. “Don carried with him every day the spirit of the land-grant mission and worked to make individuals’ lives better every day. Our hearts go out to Brenda, his wife and member of our Cornell family.”

Tobias’ career focused on public sector and community research with an emphasis on health, government and education. He led an expansion of CUCE-NYC programs into all five boroughs of New York City. He taught courses on nonprofit management and provided technical assistance to nonprofits and government agencies. In addition, Tobias helped develop programs in Burma, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Bangladesh to link rural food producers and urban markets.

“Don was a champion of Cornell’s land-grant mission by connecting Cornell’s world-class research to the benefit of so many children and families served by Cornell Cooperative Extension,” said Alan Mathios, the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean of the College of Human Ecology. “I am joined by CCE Director Helene Dillard and Dean Kathryn Boor in sharing my deepest sympathies for Don’s family and all of those with whom he not only worked with but considered family.”

In addition to leading CUCE-NYC, he was co-core director for community engagement and research at the Weill Cornell Medical College Clinical and Translational Science Center. From 1980-2006, he was an associate professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management.

Tobias received his bachelor’s degree from Alma College, master’s from Central Michigan University and Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

Those wishing to honor Tobias' memory can send a gift to Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 7 W. 83rd S., NYC, 10024, in c/o Rabbi Spratt, or the Donald J. Tobias Memorial Fund in c/o the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University.

Editor's note: A private memorial service will be held Jan. 26 to commemorate Donald Tobias. A previous version of this story erroneously implied the service is open to the public. The Chronicle regrets this error.

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John Carberry