Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches

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Robert Hopper, Charles Sapp Centennial Professor of Communication in the Department of Speech Communication, died December 11, 1998. He was born on November 2, 1945. Professor Hopper received his BA degree from Bowling Green State University in 1966, graduating magna cum laude in history. The following year he completed an MA degree from the same institution, and in 1970 he was awarded the PhD in speech communication by the University of Wisconsin, Madison. That same year, he joined the speech communication faculty at The University of Texas at Austin, where he taught for twenty-eight years.

One of the University's most distinguished teachers, Professor Hopper supervised to completion ten MA theses and thirty-two PhD dissertations, including the first digital dissertation accepted in the United States. In 1988, he organized the Language, Culture, and Social Interaction Division in the Department of Speech Communication, and from 1992 to 1995 he supervised the department's Instructional Media Center, developing it into an important research facility for undergraduate and graduate students. His teaching awards include the Department of Speech Communication Graduate Students' Award in 1982, the College of Communication's Thomas R. McCartin Award for Teaching Excellence, the University's Award for Distinguished Graduate Teaching in 1990, and the International Communication Association's Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award in 1994. He was the first winner of the National Communication Association's Mentorship Award in 1998.

A noted scholar, Professor Hopper developed an international reputation for his work in conversational analysis, gender and language, speech practices in various cultures, speech acquisition, and communication and law enforcement. He published nine books, over sixty essays, and 100 other papers. He served as associate editor of Text, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Research on Language and Social Psychology, Text and Performance Quarterly, Southern Communication Journal, and Communication Quarterly, and as guest editor for a special issue of Text and Performance Quarterly on conversation and performance. His long-term interest in the aesthetics of conversation resulted in a number of creative projects, including four stage productions based on everyday conversation. He was frequently invited to deliver public lectures on other campuses, including the University of Indiana, University of Oklahoma, Annenberg School of Communication, San Diego State University, University of California at Davis, Sheffield University, and Wolfson College, Oxford. Among the awards he received for his scholarship were the Scholarly Publication Award of the National Communication Association's Language and Social Interaction Division, and the Outstanding Scholar Award of the International Communication Association's Language and Social Action Division. He has been listed in Who's Who in America since 1980.

Professor Hopper served both The University of Texas and his discipline at the local, regional, national, and international levels. He was a member of five College of Communication committees, including a ten-year term on the Academic Excellence Committee. He also served on six University committees, including the University Research Institute Proposal-Evaluation Committee and the University Committee for Selecting Graduate Fellowships. In 1977 he served as acting chair of the Department of Speech Communication. In addition to his membership in Western States Communication Association, Southern States Communication Association, and the International Pragmatics Association, Professor Hopper was a life member of the National Communication Association and the International Communication Association. In both organizations he was instrumental in establishing divisions of Language, Culture, and Social Interaction, serving as the first chair of that division for the National Communication Association. In 1991, he was nominated for the presidency of the International Communication Association.

The Department of Communication Studies has received approval from the University to name CMA A5.114B the Robert W. Hopper Language and Social Interaction Laboratory.


Larry R. Faulkner, President
The University of Texas at Austin


John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty

This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Paul H. Gray (chair), Roderick P. Hart, and Larry D. Browning.

Distributed to the Dean of the College of Communication, the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the President on December 17, 1999. Copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500. This resolution is posted under "Memorials" at: .