After a national search of more than a year, award-winning botanist and educator Edward L. Schneider has been named president and executive of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT).
Schneider’s appointment is effective Dec. 15. He will replace long-time director S. H. Sohmer, who retired in 2014.
“Dr. Schneider’s leadership and fundraising skills are perfect for building upon BRIT’s mission-based research and education programs and extending the institute’s capabilities into each,” said Harry Bartel, board chairman.
Based in Fort Worth, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas is a nonprofit, international research and education center that studies plants and teaches about their importance to the world.
Schneider brings more than 30 years of botanical executive administration experience to BRIT and will lead the organization into the next phase of its mission of conservation and education.
He most recently served as director of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the largest public garden in the Upper Midwest located in Chaska, Minn. Prior to running the Arboretum, he served as president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden from 1992 to 2010.
Schneider spent 18 years at Texas State University in San Marcos, where he had various positions including dean of the College of Science. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in plant ecology from Central Washington University and his Ph.D. in botany from University of California, Santa Barbara.
“I look forward to returning to Texas and joining the Botanical Research Institute of Texas,” said Schneider. “BRIT is a premier research and educational organization, and I am honored to become associated with the organization. Continuing to expand the high quality, plant-focused educational outreach to the surrounding communities, building stronger, rigorous, science-based research programs, and establishing new and effective partnerships will become cornerstones for the future growth of BRIT.”
A recipient of both distinguished teaching and research awards, Schneider has published five books, one an introductory botany textbook at the collegiate level and four related to CEO and trustee governance. He is also the author of more than 120 scientific, peer-reviewed papers. He has been a member of several organizations, including president of the Botanical Society of America and president of the Texas Academy of Sciences, and on the board for the Center for Plant Conservation, American Public Garden Association, American Association of Museums and the International Water Lily Society.
His honors include Fellow of the Texas Academy of Science; Hall of Fame in the International Waterlily Society; Distinguished Alumnus, Central Washington University; Botanical Society of America Award of Merit, and Centennial Award; the Centennial Medallion for excellence and distinction from Texas State University; American Association of Museums Excellence in Service Award; and Outstanding Faculty Member, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Schneider was recently honored by the Botanical Society of American with a colloquium, a tribute to his three-decades-plus of scientific research in water lily (Nymphaeales) structure and function.