News & Features

Remembering Dr. Earnest Gloyna

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Jan. 9, 2019

Professor Emeritus Earnest F. Gloyna died on Jan. 9 at the age of 97, leaving behind a legacy at The University of Texas at Austin and the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering marked by exceptional leadership, vision, and dedication to engineering education.

“Earnest made us a nationally and then an internationally acclaimed program,” said Department Chair Bob Gilbert. “Then, he did the same thing for the College of Engineering and The University of Texas at Austin as a whole. I was fortunate to know him and to learn from him. We all are fortunate for everything he did in service to our university and our country.”

Earnest began his engineering career as an officer in the Corps of Engineers in the U.S. Army, where he served in WWII. He was a graduate of our department, earning a Master of Science in civil engineering in 1949. He earned a Ph.D. in environmental and water resources engineering from Johns Hopkins University and joined the UT Austin civil engineering faculty as an assistant professor in 1949.

Throughout his distinguished career, Earnest maintained a high standard of excellence in engineering education and research. His research focused on the evaluation and improvement of water quality, providing invaluable solutions to some of society’s most complicated environmental issues regarding the management of water resources. He served as a graduate supervisor and lifelong mentor to many of our department’s most notable alumni who have contributed to engineering innovations.

Earnest played a key role in development of the department’s internationally ranked programs. He helped establish the department’s graduate program in environmental and water resources by initiating new research programs and expanding the scope of the academic curriculum. He served as the director of the Environmental Health Engineering Laboratories from 1954 to 1970 and the director of the Center for Research in Water Resources (CRWR) from 1963 to 1973.

The first comprehensive study of Galveston Bay was completed in 1964 by Earnest and Joe Malina. During the mid 1960s through mid 1970s, the emerging petroleum and petrochemical industry in Texas called on UT’s environmental engineering faculty and graduate students to conduct studies to establish the treatability of the industrial wastewater effluent which was required to meet the industrial discharge permit requirements.

After more than two decades of exemplary service as a faculty member in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, he was appointed dean of the College of Engineering in 1970, and served in this role until 1987. He retired from UT in 2001.

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College of Engineering Dean Earnest Gloyna

Earnest’s time as dean was marked by visionary leadership and the advancement of a more diverse and inclusive engineering student body. With a dream for UT’s engineering school to serve as a model for the development of other engineering institutions in the United States, he spearheaded the building of Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall, the Engineering Teaching Center and the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering building; dramatically expanded research initiatives; encouraged a focus on developing student leaders; and launched the school’s Equal Opportunity in Engineering Program — an initiative that still thrives today — thus setting the precedent for engineering schools nationwide.

Celebrated among his professional colleagues and former students across the engineering field, Earnest was an internationally known author and active consultant who also held seven patents. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1970; was named a Diplomate in the American Academy of Environmental Engineers; was named a Distinguished Engineering Graduate by UT Austin in 1982; and was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Johns Hopkins University in 1993.

Earnest’s teaching, research and professional leadership have touched countless students, educators and leaders. His dedication to changing the world through engineering and public service will continue to resound within our community and beyond for decades to come.