Dr. Robert H. Rutford, former president of The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) and one of the world’s foremost authorities on Antarctica, has been elected to the board of trustees of the Geological Society of America Foundation.
The foundation, which was established in 1980 to seek financial support for initiatives of the Geological Society of America, supports a wide variety of educational programs, including research grants, the Decade of North American Geology project and public outreach efforts. The foundation has provided grants for the study of such diverse areas as c limatic changes in Iceland in the last 10,000 years and the effects of urbanization on groundwater in Austin, Texas.
Rutford, 72, served as UTD president from 1982 to 1994 and currently holds the Excellence in Education Foundation Chair at the university. He has made nearly 20 trips to Antarctica. An ice stream that he discovered on the continent, which measures 130 miles by 30 to 40 miles, bears his name. Rutford first went to Antarctica in 1959 to conduct research for his Ph.D. dissertation.
Rutford served as president of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), popularly known as the International Antarctic Committee, during the early 2000’s. In 2002, SCAR won the Prince of Asturias Award in the International Cooperation category under his leadership. The award recognizes and rewards “scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanistic work performed by individuals, groups or institutions worldwide.” Other winners in the International Cooperation category have included Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Yitzhak Rabin, Helmut Kohl and the International Space Station.
Rutford received a distinguished service award from the National Science Foundation in 1977 – the highest award the foundation gives -- and was awarded the Antarctic Service Medal. He has authored and co-authored many published papers about Antarctica.