Gordon E. Guyer, who served as Michigan State University’s 18th president from 1992-93, was a Spartan for life.

He was born May 30, 1926, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and he grew up in Augusta, Michigan. After graduating from Augusta-Galesburg High School, he enlisted as a private in the Air Corps at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois. Upon completing his military service, he came to MSU under the G.I. Bill.

In 1947, Guyer began his freshman year studying fisheries and wildlife, but later during his undergraduate studies he discovered his lifelong calling and switched to entomology. He received his bachelor's degree in 1950, his master's degree in 1952 and his doctorate in 1954, all in entomology.

While completing his doctorate, Guyer worked as an entomology instructor. He later became a professor and chairperson of the entomology department as well as the director of the Pesticide Research Center at MSU.

He was the author of more than 70 scientific papers, on aquatic ecology, insect control technology, integrated pest control, public policy and international agriculture. He also was chairperson of the Biological Science committee and a member of the Athletic Council at MSU.

After two decades in entomology, he served as the director of MSU Extension from 1973 to 1985.

“Gordon Guyer was one of those people who, whenever there was an important position to fill, was always on the list,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon recalled. “He was known and respected in every corner of the state through his MSU Extension work, and for his knowledge and his advocacy for Michigan State. He had an enormous capacity to connect with people and to rally support for good ideas. He saw the potential in people sometimes before they or others recognized it – after all he appointed Tom Izzo men’s basketball coach.

“This isn’t just a loss for this institution but it’s a deeply personal loss for Roy and me, so on behalf of the entire Spartan family we want to offer our most sincere condolences to Mary and to the rest of Gordon’s family.”

One of Guyer’s best memories of his time at MSU was presenting an honorary doctorate, posthumously, in 1986 to George Wallace. Wallace, an MSU zoology professor whose research was the subject of Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring,” linked the use of the pesticide DDT to the death of robins on MSU’s campus.

Guyer’s experience in entomology and extension afforded him many opportunities away from campus, He served as consultant to the following groups: Michigan Vegetable Growers' Association, Michigan Farm Bureau, Agricultural Council, Michigan Departments of Health, Conservation, and Agriculture; Agriculture and Ways and Means Committees, Michigan Legislature; and the Michigan Governor's office. He also held high-level positions at the Michigan Department of Agriculture, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Kellogg Biological Station.

Internationally, Guyer led one of the first American scientific groups allowed to visit China in the mid-1970s. He also traveled to Africa under United Nations’ sponsorship to develop education and research in plant protection in eight countries.

In regards to honors, Guyer received a National Science Foundation grant to participate in the International Congress of Entomology in London, 1964. He also received MSU's Distinguished Faculty Award in 1965.

Guyer retired the first time in 1986. MSU’s leadership, however, wanted to keep his proven leadership in play. Two years later, he served as vice president for governmental affairs.

In 1992, he retired again. And once again, MSU brought him back, first naming him president designate and finally as president.

As MSU’s president, he was praised for his ability to find common ground. In an interview from 1992, the late MSU Trustee Jack Shingleton said that Guyer’s “greatest strength is the ability to get along with people and bring divergent groups together.”

That skill was reflected when MSU hosted the 1992 presidential debate with candidates George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.

While his tenure as president was short, his mark on MSU runs deep. Two key appointments he made during his term were appointing Tom Izzo as the men’s basketball coach and Lou Ann K. Simon as acting provost, who later became MSU’s 20th president.