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AAAS Fellow Ernest Thomas Smerdon Dead at 84

Ernest Thomas Smerdon "Ernie", age 84, of Tucson, Arizona died August 11, 2014 at the Cleveland Clinic due to heart disease. His dedication and significant contributions to higher education and global environmental issues is widely recognized and will be missed. Smerdon served as the Dean of Engineering at the University of Arizona for ten years (through 1997) and then spent three years directing engineering education programs at the National Science Foundation. He retired in 2003.

Smerdon graduated from the University of Missouri with B.S. in Engineering in 1951 and immediately served four years in the Air Force. Afterwards, he returned to his alma mater for his M.S. and Ph.D. in Engineering.  Smerdon pioneered research to address critical global issues in the areas of water resources and the environment. During his career he worked at Texas A&M, the University of Florida, the University of Texas, and then the University of Arizona.  He held numerous senior positions including Vice Provost and Dean of Engineering at the University of Arizona, Vice-Chancellor for the University of Texas System in Austin and Senior Education Associate in the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation. 

Smerdon received many professional honors. He was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering and served as President of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).  He was a fellow in American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE) and American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).  Smerdon was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by the University of Missouri. Both Arizona and Florida professional engineering societies named him "Engineer of the Year."  The University of Arizona established the Ernest T. Smerdon Academic Center in the Engineering building. He received the highest award from ASEE and was also recognized by ASCE with the OPAL Lifetime Achievement Award for Education.

Smerdon was raised on a farm in the Missouri Ozarks. He leaves behind his wife of 63 years, Joanne Duck Smerdon, three children, Tom, Kathy and Gary, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

As his final gift to education, Smerdon donated his body to the University of Arizona Medical School for education and research. His life will be celebrated at a Memorial in Tucson, Arizona this Fall. 

Donations can be made in his memory to the Ernest and Joanne Smerdon Endowed Scholarship to support outstanding undergraduate students at the University of Arizona College of Engineering. Details can be found on the website.

-- By Gary Smerdon