Zoology professor Herbert L. Eastlick was devoted to preparing students for professional careers in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. He once described himself as a “taskmaster and autocrat in the classroom,” motivated by his overriding concern for his students and the rigid demands they would face in professional schools. He mentored thousands and gained a reputation among medical schools for honest, accurate evaluations of the students he taught and advised. Often, deserving WSU applicants were admitted to leading schools on the basis of his word.
During his 33 years at WSU Eastlick gained wide respect for his research on the origin of pigment cells in vertebrates, development of muscle tendon, and host-graft reaction. In 1939, he made the first successful transplant between two different species of warm-blooded vertebrates-the growth of a duck leg on a chicken.
Eastlick grew up on a ranch in Montana, miles from the nearest town, and received a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Montana in 1930. He completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in zoology at Washington University in St. Louis, where many of his WSU students later attended medical school. At Washington University, he met and married fellow graduate student Margaret “Peg” Gardiner, who survives him at Pullman.
Early in his career, he taught one year at Stephens College and two more years at the University of Missouri in Columbia. In 1939 he received a National Research Council Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation and went to the University of Chicago to work under the well known embryologist Paul Weiss. It was there that he made the acquaintance of Washington State College President E.O. Holland, who hired him as an assistant professor of zoology.
Eastlick joined the WSU faculty in 1940. He was chairman of the Department of Zoology from 1947 to 1964 and chaired the Faculty Executive Committee in 1955-56. He also helped create WSU’s nationally ranked Honors Program and presented the University’s eighth Faculty Invited Address on his research in 1961.
In 1979 the new Eastlick Biological Sciences Building was dedicated in honor of the Eastlicks. His wife taught bacteriology and pathology and supervised the pathology laboratories in the College of Veterinary Medicine at WSU for 23 years.
A number of years ago, the Eastlicks pledged their estate to Washington State University to create undergraduate scholarships for students based on their ability and need.
Eastlick died June 20 in Pullman, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 94.
Memorials contributions may be made to the Herbert L. Eastlick Scholarship in care of the WSU Foundation, PO Box 644102, Pullman, Washington 99164-4102.