Celebrating the life and accomplishments of Dr. Michael Thonney

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Senate Resolution No. 1027


CELEBRATING the life and accomplishments of Dr.
Michael Thonney

WHEREAS, There are certain outstanding members of our community who,
through their selfless commitment and dedication, have served to better
the quality of life in our community and have had a measurable positive
impact on the lives of its residents; Dr. Michael Thonney was one such
individual; and

WHEREAS, It is with great sorrow and deep regret that this
Legislative Body records the passing of Dr. Michael Thonney, noting the
significance of his purposeful life and accomplishments; and

WHEREAS, Dr. Michael Larry Thonney of Ithaca, New York, died on
Friday, April 23, 2021 at the age of 71; and

WHEREAS, Raised on a farm in eastern Washington where he had a small
flock of Hampshire sheep, Michael Thonney received his Bachelor of
Science degree in Animal Sciences from Washington State University in
1971; and

WHEREAS, After obtaining his MS (1973) and PhD (1975) degrees in
nutrition at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Michael Thonney began his
illustrious career as an Assistant Professor of Animal Science at
Cornell University, attaining the rank of Professor in 1988; and

WHEREAS, Dr. Michael Thonney has directed the Cornell Sheep Program
since 1998, including major decisions associated with the 300- to
500-ewe flock managed under the STAR accelerated lambing system; and

WHEREAS, In addition, Dr. Michael Thonney served as his department's
alternate senator for both the university and college faculty senates;
he also served as the Director of Graduate Studies for the
cross-departmental Field of Animal Science at Cornell University since
January of 2013; and

WHEREAS, Deeply committed to the viability of small livestock farms,
Dr. Michael Thonney's initial sheep research centered around out of
season breeding, winter grazing and the development of economical feed
rations using byproduct feeds high in fermentable fiber; and

WHEREAS, Furthermore, when the Cornell Sheep Flock was sharply
reduced in 2016, Dr. Michael Thonney instigated it's move directly onto
campus and piloted practical methods to use meat sheep breeds for
commercial sheep dairying; and

WHEREAS, With a steadfast and unwavering commitment to the sheep and
agriculture industry, Dr. Michael Thonney established an on-campus,
student-operated sheep dairy facility, providing his own funds for
initial equipment, building a milking platform from scratch and
convincing a team of volunteers to remodel the defunct Stevenson Road
Sheep Facility; and

WHEREAS, Today, through this extraordinary program, countless
students, many with no previous farm experience, have learned to milk
sheep, monitor lambing and artificially raise lambs; and

WHEREAS, Over the years, Dr. Michael Thonney published extensively
on biology and management of beef cattle and sheep in animal-related
journals and gave numerous invited presentations in Scotland, New
Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States; and

WHEREAS, Through the tireless efforts of Dr. Michael Thonney the
Cornell sheep flock and Cornell solar farms have been instrumental in
increasing livestock farmer knowledge, as well as ways to diversify
income through the use of livestock, combining meat with dairy, and the
co-location with New York State renewable energy projects; and

WHEREAS, Dr. Michael Thonney's infinite selflessness and benevolence
will shine on through his family's vivid and happy memories; his insight
and strength will forever serve as a beacon of love, light and hope to
the countless lives he touched; and

WHEREAS, Armed with a humanistic spirit and imbued with a sense of
compassion, Dr. Michael Thonney leaves behind a legacy which will long
endure the passage of time and will remain as a comforting memory to all
who were privileged to have known and loved such an amazing man; he will
be deeply missed and truly merits the grateful tribute of this
Legislative Body; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to
celebrate the life of Dr. Michael Thonney, and express its deepest
condolences to his family; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be
transmitted to the family of Dr. Michael Thonney.


  • 02 / Jun / 2021
  • 08 / Jun / 2021
  • 08 / Jun / 2021

Resolution Details

Law Section:
Resolutions, Legislative


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