McDermott Library Lecture Series to Present “40th Anniversary Salute to UTD Sciences”

Forty years ago, the predecessor of the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) – the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest (GRCSW) – was described as “Boomtown for Brains Rising from the Prairie” and “Cultivating Ph.D.s in a Texas Cottonfield.”

The group of scientific research laboratories formed in 1962 represents the genesis, the heart and soul of the university today – the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Since the sciences have sustained an enduring pride for UTD, the McDermott Library has dedicated its entire fall Lecture Series this year to the pioneers and current faculty members in science and mathematics. Dr. Richard A. Caldwell, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, has given the series his full support.

The series will consist of four lectures beginning with an introductory presentation on Wednesday, Sept. 18 by Caldwell and Dr. Frances S. Johnson, who became head of the Upper Atmosphere and Space Sciences Division of GRCSW in October, 1962, and acting president of UTD from its inception on Sept. 1, 1969 until 1971. The lecture, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the McDermott Library Auditorium (MC 2.140) on the UTD campus, is free and open to the public.

“The McDermott Library sees this 40th anniversary as an opportunity to let everyone know about where we came from, where we are today and where our science programs are headed,” said Dr. Larry Sall, director of UTD Libraries. “Many see UTD as an infant university, but world-class scientific research has been ongoing for four decades.”

Dean Caldwell added, “Much of UTD’s reputation is built upon the sciences, and that heritage is very important. We like the structure of these presentations – they provide a flavor but do not dwell on the history and instead showcase some of our new leaders and professors who carry on the remarkable research traditions at UTD.”

Caldwell arrived at UTD in 1971 as an associate professor and quickly became head of the Chemistry Department. He rose up the ranks to associate dean in 1977, left briefly to work for IBM and returned in 1980 as a professor and dean. Caldwell described himself as an “experimentalist” who worked well with Bryce Jordan, UTD’s first fulltime president, in late 1971.

Johnson currently holds the position of Professor Emeritus in physics at UTD. Nationally known in his field, Johnson was the first space scientist to recognize that the outermost part of the earth’s atmosphere is hydrogen. Before joining GRCSW, he was head of space physics research at Lockheed Missiles and Spacecraft Co. in Palo Alto, Calif.

In 1964, when the Founders Building opened, GRCSW President Lloyd V. Berkner appointed Johnson as director of the Southwest Earth and Planetary Sciences Laboratory.

All of the lectures in the series will be held on Wednesdays from 9:30-10:50 a.m. in the McDermott Library Auditorium (MC 2.410). All are free and open to the public. The schedule is as follows:

40th Anniversary Salute to UTD Sciences Series Schedule

  • Wednesday, Sept. 18 – 9:30 a.m.-10:50 a.m. – “40th Anniversary Salute to UTD Sciences Introduction,” presented by Richard Caldwell, Dean of UTD’s School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Frances S. Johnson, the first acting president of UTD (1969).
  • Wednesday, Sept. 25 – 9:30 a.m.-10:50 a.m. – “Biology,” presented by Stan Rupert and Juan González.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 16 – 9:30 a.m.-10:50 a.m. – “Space Sciences,” presented by John Hoffman and Greg Earle.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 13 – 9:30 a.m.-10:50 a.m. – “Geosciences,” presented by James Carter and Mohamed G. Abdelsalam.

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