KINGSTON, R.I., Aug. 22, 2016—John A. Knauss helped transform the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography from a marine laboratory into what it is today: an education and research institution recognized worldwide.
The founding dean of GSO died last fall, and now his friends, family members and colleagues are celebrating his achievements with the unveiling of the John A. Knauss Terrace on Friday, Sept. 9 at URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus, 215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett.
“The vision and commitment of John Knauss that established GSO as one of the leading oceanographic institutions in the world continues to set the course for the future of GSO,” says Bruce Corliss, dean of GSO. “It is very fitting that the Knauss Terrace be front and center as we navigate into and through new research, education and outreach challenges of the next half century.”
The ceremony will start at 3 p.m., with remarks by Corliss, as well as Margaret Leinen, director and vice chancellor for marine sciences and dean of the School of Marine Sciences at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, GSO alumna, a former GSO faculty member and a former dean of GSO.
Also speaking will be James Yoder, vice president for academic programs and dean of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, GSO alumnus, and a former faculty member and former interim dean of GSO; Dennis Nixon, professor and director of Rhode Island Sea Grant; and William Knauss, a son of the late John Knauss. The event will conclude at 5 p.m.
The terrace behind GSO’s Ocean Science and Exploration Center is made of concrete pavers, bordered by a stone wall capped with bluestone. Special details include a fountain waterfall pool and a granite compass rose.
Designed by BETA Group, Inc., in Lincoln, the terrace, steps away from the Nautilus Galley café, can be used for events and outdoor meetings, as well as a GSO lunch spot. The view is spectacular: the glistening waters of the West Passage of Narragansett Bay.
Knauss was an international leader in oceanography and marine policy.
Born in Detroit, he earned his bachelor’s degree in meteorology and his master’s degree in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before enrolling at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he received his doctorate in 1959.
In 1961, URI asked him to create an oceanographic institution—now known as GSO. Knauss left his mark on the University, serving as provost for marine affairs from 1969 to 1982; acting vice president for academic affairs in 1976; and vice president of marine programs from 1982 to 1987.
In 1966, he was key in creating the National Sea Grant Program, an initiative that has had a major impact on marine science, policy and management in the United States.
After 25 years at URI, the first Bush administration asked him to serve as undersecretary for oceans and atmosphere in the Department of Commerce and as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
He died peacefully on Nov. 19 in Saunderstown, where he had lived for 53 years. He was 90.
“My father led a remarkable life, and his time at GSO was a central part of that life,’’ says Will Knauss. “While he never sought out recognition, I know he would be pleased to be honored by the institution which he helped build and that meant so much to him.’’