UA Journey

Keith B Mather

Keith Mather

Keith Mather served as director of the Geophysical Institute from 1963-1976 and vice chancellor for research until he retired in 1985. This article was reprinted from a memorial service pamphlet in 2003.

Keith B. Mather, born in Adelaide, Australia, January 6, 1922, died at his home in Eugene, Ore., on January 10, 2003. He served as director of the Geophysical Institute at UAF from 1963 to 1976. and as vice chancellor for research from 1976 until he retired in 1985.

Mather first came to Alaska in 1961 as a Fullbright Fellow from Melbourne, Australia. When he arrived, the Geophysical Institute had a strong program in upper atmosphere and auroral research and a beginning in glaciology.

During his directorship the Geophysical Institute broadened in scope. Keith was instrumental in initiating programs in seismology, meteorology, paleomagnetism, geochronology, and remote sensing. He worked closely with the late Dr. Robert B. Forbes to secure a Departmental Development Grant from the National Science Foundation which brought about a partnership between the Institute and the Department of Geology and Geophysics. The Geophysical Institute has had a strong presence in solid earth geophysics ever since.

Keith Mather contemplates in his office.

Keith Mather was a great director of the Geophysical Institute and took bold action when it was needed. To demonstrate the need for more space, he piled up a series of trailers alongside the Chapman Building. This was sometimes referred to as "a train wreck" and effectively made the case for a new building better than written documents alone.

The world class research library of the Geophysical Institute was one of Mather's high priorities. The library's broad scope and high quality owes much to his persistent care and feeding; it was named for him in 1992 by an action of the Board of Regents.

Mather had an enormous capacity for hard work and was an effective speaker. He and his wife Betty were also gracious hosts to new faculty, and his home was frequently the site of receptions for the Geophysical Institute's Advisory Board.

Keith Mather, seated, is surrounded by staff in the vice chancellor's office in 1983. From left, Bob Sackett, Marsha Wendt, Dorothy Yates, Alexandra Driussi, Valerie Belon and Anna Shilling.

UA Site named after Keith Mather:

Keith Mather Library

Links:

Keith B. Mather Library

An article on Mather's experiment that answered how corrugations formed on dirt roads.

Article on the source of washboard roads in 1996

Article on Removing the mystery from washboard roads in 2006.