Louis Helfrich Retires After 30 Years of Service

     Leaving a sign, “Goodbye and Good Luck” on his door, Lou Helfrich retired December 31. How can we sum up the legacy of a colleague who contributed not only his work, but also his character to our departmental community? To begin, his professional contributions might best be summed up by the resolution conferring emeritus status:

November 15, 2006

WHEREAS, Dr. Louis A. Helfrich faithfully served Virginia Tech for 30 years in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, College of Natural Resources, beginning in 1976; and

WHEREAS, as a member of the faculty of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, he was dedicated to providing leadership and technical advise to enhance the economic feasibility, profitability, and competitiveness of the Virginia aquaculture industry and minimize water quality degradation in the Commonwealth; he promoted public understanding of the opportunities and constraints involved with establishing commercial aquaculture enterprises in Virginia by providing prospective and existing fish farmers with expert advice in fish culture, water quality, fish health, and bioengineering; and

WHEREAS, he was a dedicated teacher of a wide range of courses from the freshman to the advanced graduate level; and

WHEREAS, he served as Interim Department Head of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Sciences from 1994 -1995, supervising over 20 faculty, 80 graduate students, and 500 undergraduates, and a budget exceeding $3 million; and

WHEREAS, he participated in an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPS) agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1996 – 2000, helping to design and consult on the construction of a new fish holding facilities and preparing documents relating to the future management and operation of recirculating water aquaculture systems and advising on studies on fish passage through experimental pumps; and

WHEREAS, he was major professor for 13 M.S. students and served on the committees of 29 M.S. and 21 Ph.D. students and was advisor to 23 undergraduate students; and

WHEREAS, he was awarded the Carnage Mellon Film Institute Video Selection Award in 2000; Outdoor Writers Association of America Broadcast Video Award in 1999; Fellow, American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists in 1983; awarded three Education Publication Merit awards; American Fisheries Society Best Research Paper and Presentation; and US Fish and Wildlife Service Certificate of Recognition; and

WHEREAS, he served on numerous university, state, national, and international societies and committees, including consultant and technical advisor with U.S. AID/AED for the Government of Sri Lanka; and

WHEREAS, he made significant contributions in research in natural resources, authoring 54 refereed journal articles (4 research paper awards), 16 reports on research, 2 books, 3 book reviews, 45 extension publications (5 communication awards), 18 popular articles, 28 abstracts and others, 5 educational videos, and 8 educational posters;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Board of Visitors recognizes Dr. Louis A. Helfrich for his services to the university with the title of Professor Emeritus of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.


That the above resolution recommending Dr. Louis A. Helfrich for emeritus status be approved.


Louis spoke at his send-off luncheon.. His wife, Diana Weigmann, and 30 faculty, staff, and friends shared stories of Louis’ work and play. While many of the stories took the form of roasts, many also were tributes. Louis spoke last. His parting comments paralleled the feelings he set out in his letter of resignation, an excerpt from which is set out below:

My position has been filled with rich and rewarding experiences, personally and professionally, for which I will be forever grateful. I fully appreciate the friendship, consideration, and kindness exhibited to me and my wife Diana, by my colleagues and the entire Virginia Tech community throughout the past nearly 30 years.

This is truly a great place to live and work – to spend a full academic career. I will always have fond memories of Virginia Tech, the Department, and Blacksburg, and the great characters who have shared their interests, thoughts, concerns, and philosophies with me – faculty, students, and staff.

My deepest appreciation to Virginia Tech for this wonderful opportunity. The great thing about our department is the chance to work on difficult natural resources uses about which you care personally and passionately. My very best wishes for the future.

Farewell and thank you. I am off to another great adventure.

                                           Louis A. Helfrich, Ph.D.






Dana Keith
Assistant to Department Head
Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Cheatham Hall, RM100, Virginia Tech
310 West Campus Drive (MC0321)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: (540) 231-5573
Fax: (540) 231-7580


Dr. Sarah Karpanty 
Graduate Program Coordinator 

Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Cheatham Hall, RM150, Virginia Tech
310 West Campus Drive (MC0321)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: (540) 231-4586
Fax: (540) 231-7580
Email: karpanty@vt.edu


Stephanie Hart, Director
The Advising Center
Cheatham Hall, RM138, Virginia Tech
310 West Campus Drive (MC0321)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: (540) 231-5482
http://cnre.vt.edu/students Email: cnre_students@vt.edu