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Distinguished Scientist Robert Hatcher Retires

After 32 years of service Professor of Geology and Distinguished Scientist Robert D. Hatcher, Jr retires at the end of June, 2018.

Hatcher first came to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in pursuit of his doctoral degree, after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Vanderbilt University. Born in Madison, TN, Hatcher completed his doctoral program in 1965 and left Knoxville for approximately 20 years.

Moving around the southeastern U.S., he taught at Clemson University, Florida State University, and the University of South Carolina. In 1986, he was invited to return to the University of Tennessee.

“At first I said no,” said Hatcher, speaking at a retirement event in his honor. “I didn’t think you should teach where you went to school, but they convinced me to change my mind.”

Fortunately for the university, he returned to Knoxville and became one of the earliest Distinguished Scientist appointees with the Science Alliance. Since that time, Hatcher has mentored 52 master’s students and 17 doctoral students, and taught thousands of hours of classes.

Over the course of his career, he has served in a variety of leadership roles within his field. He was president of the Geological Society of America from 1992 to 1993 and president of the American Geological Institute from 1995 to 1996. He was awarded the first ever Geological Society of America Distinguished Service Award. In 2014 he received the American Geosciences Institute’s Legendary Geoscientist Medal.

“Every time I go to a conference, almost everyone I speak to asks if I know Bob Hatcher,” said Michael McKinney, department head and professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “The further he got in his career, the more productive he seemed to get.”

Michael McKinney presents Robert Hatcher with a plaque from the Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesAt the retirement celebration, McKinney presented Hatcher with a plaque commemorating his years of service to the university and the State of Tennessee. The department also gave Hatcher a large piece of Tennessee marble with a metal tag reading “In honor of a lifetime of major achievements, service, and contributions to science. With gratitude from thousands of colleagues and students whose lives you have touched.”