Campus Life

Endowed Chair In Oceanography Honors Bryant

The William R. Bryant Oceanography Chair for Teaching, Research and Mentoring Excellence was announced at a dinner held in Bryant’s honor.
By Carol Trono, Texas A&M College of Geosciences February 5, 2008

Twenty-three former students and associates of Professor William R. Bryant have given a total of $1 million dollars to establish an endowed chair in his name in the Department of Oceanography within the College of Geosciences. The William R. Bryant Oceanography Chair for Teaching, Research and Mentoring Excellence was announced at a dinner held in Bryant’s honor Friday, Feb 1.

Family members, former students, friends and colleagues surprised Bryant with the dinner and the announcement of the chair. Congratulatory remarks were made by College of Geosciences Dean Björn Kjerfve, Interim Vice Provost Luis Cifuentes, and Senior Vice President of the Texas A&M Foundation John Stropp.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor,” said Kjerfve, “or of a more fitting name for this chair. Bill is the first faculty member at Texas A&M University to receive all three of the Association of Former Students highest University-level awards – the Distinguished Achievement Award in Research in 1982, the Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching in 2001, and the Distinguished Achievement Award in Mentoring in 2007. He is an accomplished and dedicated educator and scientist who, as evidenced by creation of this endowed chair, has profoundly impacted the lives and careers of his students.”

College of Geosciences Development Director Diane Barron who coordinated establishment of the chair said, “It is definitely unprecedented in the College and quite possibly in the University for so many former students from a single department to make a commitment like this. It was a grand gesture on their part of the gratitude and admiration they have for Bill and a testament to his legacy. The presentation by his former students and University administrators was an incredibly moving event.”

Bryant is in his 45th year in the Oceanography Department. In that time, he has designed and taught twelve undergraduate and graduate courses. In addition to his dedication to teaching oceanography students, Bryant spearheaded the creation of a course for nautical archaeologists to learn how to use marine survey techniques and equipment to find buried shipwrecks. He has chaired 51 masters’ committees, 52 doctoral committees, and has been a member of an additional 99 graduate committees.

Bryant has participated in 38 major oceanographic cruises and four deep sea drilling legs, and he has sailed in six of the Russian Polar Seas. These research cruises have resulted in his amassing a bibliography that lists over 130 publications in journals and books and over 80 reports and conference publications.

In addition to the AFS Distinguished Achievement Awards in research, teaching and mentoring, Bryant has received several college-level awards, two best publication awards from the Naval Oceanography and Atmospheric Research Laboratory, the outstanding educator award from the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, and the TAMU Eagle Award for exemplary contributions to education.

Bryant earned an M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. His teaching and research career at Texas A&M began in 1963 after four years of service in the Air Force as a cryptanalyst. He came to A&M as a research scientist in oceanography, became an assistant professor in 1964, was promoted to associate professor in 1968, and to professor in 1971. He served as head of the Oceanography Department from 1998 to 2000. In 1986, ‘88 and ‘89, Bryant also served as a United Nations consultant to the development project of the Ministry of Geology for the People’s Republic of China. He was director of the TAMU Center for Sedimentology from 1982-85.

The William R. Bryant Oceanography Chair for Teaching, Research and Mentoring Excellence was established by gifts made through the Texas A&M Foundation by the following former students: Stuart P. Burbach ’77, Rocky R. Roden ’80, Scott A. Chaffey ’86, Bruce S. Appelbaum ’71, Mary H. Feeley ’82, Les E. Shephard ’77, Claudia P. Ludwig ’71, Anthony J. Moherek ’77, Gary L. Hall ’71, Dudley J. Hughes ’51, Michael J. Kaluza ’77, Thomas W. Neurauter ’88, Anne K. Rutledge ’79, Peter K. Trabant ’72, Bruce R. Sidner ’73, Dale E. Coulthard ’76, Lyle F. Baie ’67, Elliott Taylor ’84, Michael Riggins ’73, Gregory R. Simmons ’92, Sterling J. Helwick Jr. ’77, and Yir-Der E. Lee ’95.

This chair is only the second chair created to benefit the Department of Oceanography. With the addition of the Bryant Chair, there are now 11 endowed chairs in the College of Geosciences to attract and retain outstanding faculty.

Media contact: Carol Trono, Texas A&M College of Geosciences.

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