Ex-UT Dallas President Lauded for Antarctic Research
Rutford Recognized for Four Decades of Exploration and Scientific Leadership
Oct. 1, 2010
UT Dallas President Emeritus Robert Rutford has received the 2010 Medal for International Scientific Coordination by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).
Rutford was recognized for his longtime leadership in international Antarctic research and for “championing and promoting international coordination” in Antarctica for the last 40 years. The award also recognized his vice presidency and presidency of the organization.
“I had the opportunity to work in an international community with a broad spectrum of people involved in Antarctic exploration and Antarctic research. They are the ones that made this award possible,” Rutford said.
SCAR is a non-governmental group whose mission is the initiation, promotion and coordination of scientific research in Antarctica.
Dr. Rutford, who first went to Antarctica in 1959, has had an ice stream and a mountain peak named for him.
Under Rutford’s direction, the group received the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation in 2002. That award recognizes work that has “contributed to mutual understanding, progress and brotherhood among nations in an exemplary and significant way.” Other winners of the award have included Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Yitzhak Rabin, Helmut Kohl and the International Space Station.
Rutford first went to Antarctica in 1959 to conduct research for his PhD, and a host of honors for his research there have followed.
He received an honorary doctor of science degree from St. Petersburg State Technical University, foreign membership in the St. Petersburg Academy of Engineering, a medal from the Polish Academy of Sciences for “outstanding contribution to the development of scientific cooperation with Polish researchers,” the Distinguished Service Award from the National Science Foundation — the highest award the foundation gives — and the Antarctic Service Medal.
He also has been honored with the naming of a 180-mile-long and more than 15-mile-wide ice stream, The Rutford Stream. There’s also Mount Rutford, a 14,000-foot-tall peak in west Antarctica.
Rutford has assisted in establishing the Polar Ice Coring Office for ice drilling, led the multi-institutional and international Ross Ice Shelf Project, and served as the director of the Division of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation.
From 1982 to 1994, Rutford guided UT Dallas through a formative period. The construction of on-campus housing, the addition of freshman and sophomores classes, and the approval for a school of engineering all came during his tenure as president of the University.
Rutford held the endowed Excellence in Education Foundation professorship of geology in the Department of Geosciences until his retirement in 2007. Rutford Avenue, a main thoroughfare on the UT Dallas campus, was named in recognition of his contributions to the University and the scientific community at large.