Seward Research Laboratory Building Named for Donald W. Hood
by Vera Alexander
In 1965, Dr. Donald W. Hood moved from Texas A&M University, where he had served as professor of chemical oceanography, to the University of Alaska Fairbanks where he accepted a position as director of the Institute of Marine Science. He subsequently held the director’s position until 1976.
During Dr. Hood’s tenure, the Institute enjoyed precipitous growth, and developed into a leading institution of oceanography. The Institute prospered and grew during this time for a number of reasons. Primary, of course, was Dr. Hood’s leadership. Also, there were several new opportunities, which he seized with enthusiasm. The impending development of the oil and gas industry precipitated the Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program, and Dr. Hood worked effectively to ensure that IMS was heavily involved and received substantial funding from the program. He also spearheaded the first ecological study of the southeast Bering Sea—Processes and Resources of the Bering Sea Shelf (PROBES—and secured financial support from the Office of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation. Through this program, Dr. Hood began our strong association with Japanese scientists, which continues to this day. At the same time, he developed a tradition of interdisciplinary work, which expanded into the Arctic through the Colville River Project.
Dr. Hood prided himself on an Institute that was always prepared to address pragmatic marine and coastal problems, on short notice if necessary. During those days, IMS was involved in environmental assessment in connection with virtually each and every coastal development activity within the State. He served on the Alaska Coast Commission, and was respected throughout the state government. He hired no less than 18 new faculty during his decade of leadership. Several are still with us today, either full-time or as emeriti.
The University of Alaska was very fortunate to have had Dr. Hood as a member of its leadership team.
On a more personal level, Dr. Hood was a friend and mentor to many of us. With his wife Betty, and daughters Becky, Barbie, and Susan, he served as an anchor, lending stability to our lives. In recent years, I had affectionately dubbed him “godfather.” He will be very greatly missed, even by those of us who in recent years only saw him about once a year. Our sympathies go to his family and close friends.
Hood died in April 2002 and a memorial scholarship honors his name.