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Glenn Beyer was born in Chester, South Dakota in 1913. He earned degrees from Augustana (South Dakota) College in 1935 and George Washington University in 1939. He held positions in several federal housing agencies until he became Professor of Housing and Design at Cornell University in 1947. He became Director of the Cornell Center for Housing and Environmental Studies (formerly the Housing Research Center) upon its establishment in 1950. Beyer wrote several books, monographs, and articles on rural and farm housing and housing for the elderly. Many works were concerned with Upstate New York housing practices.