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November 4, 2007

Press Release: Martinsville Bulletin

Sunday, November 4, 2007

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

When you think of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, you think of Nick Fraser, museum executives and board members said Friday night.

Fraser probably has been the museum's most visible employee, said VMNH board Chairman George Lyle, noting that his "charming accent" - he is Scottish - helped make him a popular speaker at community events.

"He's really put a personal face" to the science that the museum strives to promote, Lyle said.

Board member J. James Murray Jr. of Charlottesville, who was on the search committee that hired Fraser 18 years ago, called him "the cream of the staff."
Lyle and Murray made their remarks during a reception in honor of Fraser, the museum's director of research and collections and curator of vertebrate paleontology. He is leaving in December to become keeper of natural sciences at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Fraser has been third in command at the museum, behind Executive Director Tim Gette and Administration and Services Director Gloria Niblett.
"It has been a real honor" to work with Fraser, Gette said.

In March, VMNH moved into a new building on Starling Avenue five times larger than its previous location in a former school on Douglas Avenue. The Scottish museum recently expanded and is in the process of remodeling its original building, Gette noted.

Mentioning that Fraser was on a committee that helped develop exhibits for the new VMNH building, Gette said that Fraser has "an opportunity to start (the process) all over again" with the Scottish museum.

Murray presented Fraser with a plaque featuring a large seashell. Gette gave Fraser a glass etching of the new museum building."We don't want you to forget" the Virginia museum, Gette said.

Fraser said he will never forget.

His 18 years at the museum have been "an exciting time," he said, adding that he; his wife, Chris; and two daughters, Hannah and Amy, are "going to miss everyone tremendously."

"I certainly appreciate everyone's best wishes," Fraser said. "Don't fear - I'm sure we'll be back from time to time."

Gette said he hopes VMNH and the Scottish museum can collaborate on projects in the future.

Richard Hoffman, curator of recent invertebrates, will be interim director of research and collections until someone is hired to replace Fraser.

The museum's board of trustees on Saturday unanimously approved a resolution honoring Fraser and gave him a standing ovation.


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