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Chemist Hackerman Dies

Chemist Hackerman Dies
Dr. Normal Hackerman. Photo: Marsha Miller

Former University of Texas at Austin President Norman Hackerman, an internationally noted professor of chemistry, researcher and academic administrator, died Saturday evening at Scott & White in Temple, Tx. He was 95.

Hackerman led the university from 1967 to 1970, when he left to become president of Rice University. He was Rice’s president for 15 years.

He was named professor emeritus of chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin in 1985 and taught classes until the end of his life.

"Norm Hackerman was a great leader on this campus, in higher education in Texas and in the nation,” said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin.

“The contributions he made as a scholar, educator, researcher and administrator in a career that spanned more than 70 years are without parallel. He was a visionary who propelled Texas into a new era of scientific inquiry with his commitment to building the research capabilities of The University of Texas at Austin and Rice University, a man of undiminished energy and vitality.

“He was an internationally regarded teacher and researcher who dedicated his life, from the 1930s to his death on Saturday, to educating new generations of young people and forging new paths of discovery. He was a great friend, and we all will miss him."

Hackerman joined the University of Texas in 1945 as an assistant professor of chemistry, became an associate professor in 1946 and a professor in 1950. He later served as Chemistry Department chairman, dean of research, vice president and provost at the university and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Texas System.

He became a member of the College of Natural Sciences Advisory Council in 1985 and was recognized with a Hall of Honor Award in 1991. The Norman Hackerman Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Chemistry and Biochemistry was established in 1992.

"Not only was he a great man," said Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, "he was a wonderful mentor and friend with great insight, wisdom and humor.

"He could always see the element in any situation that was the key to change, and he was tireless in pursuing excellence. He remained active in research and teaching until a few weeks before his death."

Hackerman was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his many honors are the American Institute of Chemists’ Gold Medal, the Charles Lathrop Parsons Award of the American Chemical Society, the Vannevar Bush Award of the National Science Board and the National Medal of Science.

He taught at Johns Hopkins, Loyola College in Baltimore and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va., before working on the Manhattan Project in World War II.

Hackerman earned his bachelor’s degree in 1932 and his doctor’s degree in chemistry in 1935 from Johns Hopkins University.
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Saturday, 18 November 2017

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