AUSTIN, Texas — Dr. Desmond F. Lawler, a professor in the department of civil engineering, has been chosen to hold the William David Blunk Memorial Professorship for 2000-2001. Lawler is the W.A. (Bill) Cunningham Professor in Engineering and a member of UT Austin’s Distinguished Teaching Academy.
The Blunk Professorship is the only endowed professorship on campus awarding a yearlong appointment based on a recommendation to the provost from a campus-wide faculty and student committee. The endowed professorship’s emphasis on teaching, advising and other undergraduate student service also makes it distinctive.
Lawler has taught at UT Austin’s civil engineering department since 1980. He played a major role in implementing changes to the civil engineering undergraduate degree curriculum in the mid-1990s. Born in Nyack, N.Y., Lawler was graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1968. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in environmental engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 1999, Lawler was awarded the A.P. Black Research Award from the American Water Works Association for significant contributions to research on drinking water. He also was designated as a “Piper Professor” by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation in 1999, presented annually to 10 university professors from all colleges and universities in Texas. Among numerous teaching awards, Lawler was elected by students as the Most Outstanding Faculty Member in the department of civil engineering in 1998. In 1995, he was presented the Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teaching Award.
Dr. Neal E. Armstrong, associate dean for academic affairs, said Lawler’s “major teaching contributions come at the graduate level, (however) he is considered by undergraduate students to be one of civil engineering’s top teachers. He is a worthy candidate for this award.”
The Blunk Professorship was established in 1977 as a memorial to William D. Blunk, a former director of development for the University System and assistant dean of student life. It was funded by the UT System Chancellor’s Council, the UT Development Board, the Dad’s Association (now the Parent’s Association), The University of Texas Foundation Inc. and other groups. Appointments to the professorship are not restricted to a particular discipline, but focus on faculty who promote student academic excellence and enrichment and who foster personal interactions with students.