The President Emeritus title is not conferred lightly, and is reserved for individuals who have made significant contributions to the system through long and distinguished service in administration, teaching, and research while holding the position of president. Established in 1996, the Regents Professor Award is bestowed annually by the Board of Regents in recognition of awardees’ exemplary contributions to their university and to the people of Texas.
“These professors and professionals make the Texas A&M University system extraordinary,” said Charles Schwartz, chair of the Texas A&M System Board of Regents. “Because of them, the universities and agencies within The Texas A&M University System will continue to thrive.”
“I appreciate these awards and the recognition and support given to me by the regents and administration,” said Merrell. “But I fully realize that any academic accomplishments that I’ve received really reflect the efforts of the many outstanding colleagues that I have been privileged to serve with during my 35 years in the Texas A&M University System. I thank each of them.”
John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, said “Dr. Merrell exemplifies the excellence of Texas A&M in fulfilling our mission of education, research and service. His leadership grew Texas A&M University at Galveston as an esteemed institution and that leadership was recognized by his selection to head prestigious organizations at the national level. His students are world leaders in their fields of endeavor and are making a difference in the world. As the ‘Father of the Ike Dike’, Bill Merrell conceived the concept, formed a team of the best minds and led the research effort to protect lives, property and the economy of the nation against storm surge. I applaud the wisdom of our Board of Regents in naming Dr. Merrell as President Emeritus of Texas A&M University at Galveston.”
President Michael K. Young of Texas A&M University echoed those sentiments, saying “Dr. Merrell has built a lasting legacy at Texas A&M Galveston for more than three decades. His leadership, teaching and research continue to positively impact our ‘classroom by the sea’ and beyond. We heartily congratulate him on being named Regents Professor and President Emeritus.”
During his long and distinguished career, Merrell has served as president of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, vice chancellor for Strategic Programs of The Texas A&M University System, vice president for Research Policy of Texas A&M University, and president of Texas A&M University at Galveston.
Merrell has had a remarkable academic career. As a thought leader in earth and ocean sciences, he was tapped to chair the Ocean Studies Board, served on the Space Studies Board, and the Board on Sustainability of the National Research Council. Merrell received the Distinguished Achievement Medal from the Geosciences and Earth Resources Council and has held presidential appointments as assistant director of the National Science Foundation. He is the only person to receive the Distinguished Service Award of the National Science Foundation twice.
While Merrell continues to teach the capstone course in the Masters of Marine Resource Management Program, publish fiction, and dedicate time to his interests preservation of historic structures (such as the 1853 John DeLong/Commodore Chubb House in Galveston’s East End Historic District and the 1870 Merchants Mutual Insurance Building in the Strand Historic District), he also continues leading in his scientific field with studies of regional and large-scale ocean physics as well as coastal processes and hurricane impacts. His interests and research have evolved toward coastal sustainability and disaster mitigation and recovery resulting in the coastal surge barrier plan.
Galveston Campus Chief Operating Officer and Vice President Col. Michael E. Fossum “is truly honored to be affiliated with an institution represented by individuals in the ranks of Dr. William Merrell. Merrell’s latest project, and perhaps his most bold, will be the cornerstone of this legacy; the development of a coastal barrier system to minimize the effects of a devastating storm surge on Galveston, Houston, and the many communities and industries in the area. This project is not just important for our area and state, but has profound implications for protecting industries and products which are vital to our nation’s economy.”
Texas A&M University at Galveston is a special-purpose campus of Texas A&M University offering undergraduate and graduate programs under the name and authority of Texas A&M University. With a distinct identity in marine themes, Texas A&M Galveston is intimately connected to the land grant mission of Texas A&M University and, as such, its academic programs and research initiatives are linked to finding basic and applied solutions in maritime affairs, science and technology, and ocean studies. The institution is under the management and control of the Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System.
Media contact: Bob Wright, Marketing and Communications, Texas A&M University at Galveston. Office: 409-740-4840, Cell: 713-586-9870, Email: WrightB@TAMUG.edu