Norman Hackerman

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Norman Hackerman bigraphy, stories - Chemists

Norman Hackerman : biography

March 2, 1912 – June 16, 2007

Norman Hackerman (March 2, 1912 – June 16, 2007) was an American chemist, internationally known as an expert in metal corrosion, and a former president of both the University of Texas at Austin (1967–1970) and Rice University (1970–1985).

Family

Hackerman’s wife of 61 years, Gene Coulbourn, died in 2002; they had three daughters and one son.

Biography

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he was the only son of Jacob Hackerman and Anna Raffel, immigrants from the Baltic regions of the Russian Empire that later became Estonia and Latvia, respectively.

Hackerman earned his bachelor’s degree in 1932 and his doctor’s degree in chemistry in 1935 from Johns Hopkins University. He taught at Johns Hopkins, Loyola College in Baltimore and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, before working on the Manhattan Project in World War II.

He joined the University of Texas in 1945 as an assistant professor of chemistry, became an associate professor in 1946, a full professor in 1950, a department chair in 1952, dean of research in 1960, vice president and provost in 1961, and vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University of Texas System in 1963. Hackerman left the University of Texas in 1970 for Rice, where he retired 15 years later. He was named professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Texas in 1985 and taught classes until the end of his life.

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

Hackerman served on advisory committees and boards of several technical societies and government agencies, including the National Science Board, the Texas Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Welch Foundation. He also served as editor of the Journal of Electrochemistry and as president of the Electrochemical Society.

Legacy

In 2000 the Welch Foundation created the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research to recognize the work of young researchers in Texas. The Rice Board of Trustees established the Norman Hackerman Fellowship in Chemistry in honor of Hackerman’s 90th birthday in 2002. In 2008, the original Experimental Science Building at the University of Texas at Austin campus was demolished and rebuilt as the Norman Hackerman Experimental Science Building in his name and honor. The building was completed in late-2010, with the opening and dedication ceremony on March 2, 2011, which was both Hackerman’s 99th Birthday and the 175th Anniversary of Texas Independence. The main building at the J. Erik Jonsson Center of the National Academy of Sciences is Hackerman House, named in his honor. Hackerman House overlooks Quissett Harbor in Woods Hole MA, on Cape Cod.