Groat replaces Eric J. Barron, dean since 2006, who left the university to become director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Groat holds the position while a national search takes place for the next Jackson School dean.
Groat was director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from 1998-2005, appointed by President Clinton and retained by President Bush. Since 2005 he has directed the Energy and Earth Resources Graduate Program and the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at The University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Chair in Energy and Mineral Resources.
Among a range of leadership positions in academic and government research, Groat previously was executive director of the American Geological Institute (1990-1992), director of the Louisiana Geological Survey (1978-1990), director of the Center for Coastal, Energy, and Environmental Resources at Louisiana State University (1991-1995) and Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Projects at the University of Texas at El Paso (1998).
"Chip Groat has an outstanding blend of administrative, academic and research experience," said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. "He is an ideal leader to guide the school at this time, when the eyes of the geoscience community are upon us."
In 2002, The University of Texas at Austin received the largest gift ever to an individual public university in the United States when the late John A. and Katherine G. Jackson bequeathed the university $241 million, directing $237 million to the formation of the Jackson School of Geosciences. In 2005, the university established the Jackson School as a separate academic unit at the level of a college.
In 2007, the Jackson School began a new hiring plan to increase the size of its scientific staff. In the first year, the school added 10 faculty members, a 30 percent increase from the 2007 total of 34 faculty. At the same time, the school has experienced dramatic increases in enrollment even as enrollment in earth sciences nationwide remains flat or declines.
"This is an exciting time to be at the Jackson School and I am pleased that the provost expects me to move the school forward," said Groat. "Our researchers are working on issues of great relevance to society, from the quest for energy to the imperatives of climate science and sustainable water supplies."
"With our new hires and outstanding student recruitment," said Groat, "we are on track to become the preeminent geoscience program in the country. I look forward to advancing us toward that goal."
After earning his Ph.D. in geology from The University of Texas at Austin, Groat began his career as a research scientist at the Jackson School's Bureau of Economic Geology, later serving as its acting director. A faculty member in the Department of Geological Sciences, he is a former member of the Advisory Council of the Geology Foundation, which supports and advises the school.
"In addition to being a successful leader, Chip knows the Jackson School like few others," Powers said. "He has a wide-ranging, strategic view of the Jackson School and the important role it will play in the future of earth sciences."