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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI Dedicates Bay Campus Quadrangle to John Knauss

Narragansett, R.I. -- September 25, 2000 -- The URI Graduate School of Oceanography held a weekend-long 75th birthday celebration to honor its founding dean, John A. Knauss.

The celebration began on Friday, September 22, with the John A. Knauss Symposium on Ocean Science and Policy at the URI Narragansett Bay Campus and was followed by a birthday celebration at the Newport Officer's Club, attended by approximately 250 guests. The final event took place on Saturday morning when URI President Robert Carothers and Provost M. Beverly Swan joined 150 friends, colleagues, and GSO alumni in naming the John A. Knauss Quadrangle for the oceanographer who did so much to make GSO one of the foremost institutions of its kind in the country.

In addition to honoring Knauss, the weekend celebration was part of a fundraising effort to enhance the existing John A. Knauss Fund for Excellence, created by Knauss to recognize and encourage GSO faculty, staff, and students to carry out activities which complement the institution's commitment to excellence. Since July, more than $48,000 has been raised to add to the fund.

At the dedication, Jamestown native Redwood Wright recalled the good times he had as a Ph.D. student at GSO, especially his relationship with Knauss, "a mentor and friend for 40 years." He described Knauss as "a major figure in the development of marine science in the nation and the world" and a man with "a keen sense of not only what would be nice to do, but also what can be done with existing technology and resources."

Knauss told the audience that at a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology 50th reunion, the alumni were asked to write down the smartest and dumbest things they had ever done. "The smartest decision I ever made, besides marrying my wife, Lynne," said Knauss, "was to come to Rhode Island and start the Graduate School of Oceanography."

Margaret Leinen, former dean of GSO and current Assistant Director of Geosciences for the National Science Foundation, compared Knauss to Forrest Gump because "he has been at every important event and at every milestone in oceanography for the past 50 years."

"He has given a tremendous legacy of ideas to oceanographic research," added Leinen, "not just to the Graduate School of Oceanography. I am privileged to have been a student, a faculty member, and an administrator when a living legend was working here."

Knauss became GSO's first dean in 1962. At that time, there were only a few buildings, and a handful of faculty and students. When he left in 1987 for Washington to head the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), his vision and leadership had built GSO into one of the top ten oceanographic institutions in the country.

One of the founders of the national Sea Grant program, Knauss has received numerous honors, appointments, and awards. In 1988, an act of Congress changed the Sea Grant Fellowship Program to the Dean John A. Knauss Fellowship Program. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the Marine Technology Society. He has been President of the Association of Sea Grant Program Institutions, Chairman of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), and a founder of the Law of the Sea Institute.

More than a decade after his official retirement from URI, Knauss continues to serve the oceanographic community. He was recently appointed the chair of the U.S. Ocean Research Advisory Panel of the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP).

Knauss and his wife of 46 years live in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, in the summer and LaJolla, California, in the winter.

Lisa Cugini, 874-6642,


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