Ronald K. DeFord Field Scholarship Fund
The Ronald K. DeFord Field Scholarship Fund was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on April 12, 1973, for the benefit of the Jackson School of Geosciences. The endowment honors Professor Ronald K. DeFord of Austin, Texas. Professor Ronald K. DeFord’s academic life was dedicated to enhancing excellence within the department of geology while building a more comprehensive learning environment for students. Ronald DeFord joined the University of Texas at Austin as a Professor in 1948. He was Graduate Advisor in the Department of Geology from 1949 to 1967. He supervised a phenomenal 19 Ph.D. dissertations and 126 master’s theses. Nearly all of these degrees were based on fieldwork, many in West Texas and northern Mexico.
After nominal retirement in 1972 and appointment as Professor Emeritus, he continued until 1987 as the faculty supervisor of Technical Sessions, a one hour course meeting twice a week which was required of all graduate students to learn clear, effective speaking. He then retired in fact at the age of 85, partly because of the afflictions of Parkinson’s disease. Professor DeFord’s influence on the Department and University was immense, as a teacher, a leader, and a colleague. As Graduate Advisor in the Department, Professor DeFord encouraged all students to acquire an adequate foundation not only in geology, but also in mathematics, physics, chemistry, English, foreign language, and fine arts.
His interests and skills in English usage were always evident when he edited student manuscripts. Among the memorable courses he taught were undergraduate classes in physical geology and graduate courses in Geology of Fluids and Advanced General Geology. Vigorous discussions with students were hallmarks of his teaching. From the 1960s on, Professor DeFord was the only full-time faculty member without a PhD degree. This was not an issue with his faculty colleagues, but, insisting on proper titles, he corrected people who addressed him as Dr. DeFord: “I am Professor DeFord” was his response. Ronald DeFord, age 92, Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences, died May 7, 1994. He will forever be remembered with great respect, love and affection by his family, friends, students and colleagues.