Science Building Named for Norman Hackerman, Esteemed Chemist and President Emeritus

Jan. 13, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — The newest science building now being built on The University of Texas at Austin campus will be named in honor and memory of Dr. Norman Hackerman, chemist, professor and president emeritus.

The Norman Hackerman Building will house state-of-the-art classrooms and teaching labs for organic chemistry, research labs for faculty from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Center for Learning and Memory and the Institute for Neuroscience and administrative offices for the School of Biological Sciences.

Norman Hackerman
Dr. Norman Hackerman

It replaces the original Experimental Sciences Building, which itself was a center of science research when it originally opened in 1952.

"By naming this new building after Norm Hackerman we are forever honoring one of the most influential figures in the history of our university," said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. "Dr. Hackerman was a visionary leader, a superb scientist and a compelling advocate for higher education. This building will be an enduring symbol of his legacy."

Hackerman, who died in 2007 at the age of 95, had a long and highly esteemed professional life, a substantial portion of which was spent at The University of Texas at Austin. He joined the faculty in 1945 as assistant professor of chemistry and was an immediate agent for change. He had the first research grant at the university and was the first person to promote the university as an economic engine for the state.

"Norm Hackerman was an amazing scientist, leader, educator and friend," says Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, "and the new building embodies his forward-thinking ideals. It is the perfect honorarium for a great man."

Rendering of the east view of the new Norman Hackerman Building
A rendering of the new Norman Hackerman Building, now under construction. The building will replace the Experimental Sciences Building on the corner of 24th and Speedway streets.

The Hackerman Building, designed by CO Architects, is to be a catalyst for collaboration among research groups and integration of various sciences. Laboratories and classrooms will support cutting-edge research and education, while plazas, porches and galleries will promote social activity and connectivity.

If funding becomes available, the building may also become one of the "greenest" buildings on campus, potentially featuring rooftop solar panels and a green roof. The solar array will be used to heat water and could be the largest solar hot water array in the state of Texas.

Hackerman was chairman of the Chemistry Department from 1952 to 1962. He was later appointed vice president and provost, vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of Texas System, and finally, president of The University of Texas at Austin, where he served from 1967 to 1970. In 1970, he was appointed president of Rice University where, over 15 years, he is credited with transforming that institution.

Hackerman was inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame for Science, Mathematics, and Technology. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his many honors are the American Institute of Chemists' Gold Medal, the Charles Lathrop Parsons Award of the American Chemical Society, the Vannevar Bush Award of the National Science Board and the National Medal of Science. Hackerman continued teaching freshman chemistry and directing a research group throughout his administrative career and beyond.

For more information, contact: Lee Clippard, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 512-232-0104.

9 Comments to "Science Building Named for Norman Hackerman, Esteemed Chemist and President Emeritus"

1.  Kristen John said on Jan. 14, 2009

Dr. Hackerman was the first professor I had at UT in 2004. He taught the freshman seminar "Science in the Interest of Society." Throughout the semester it was obvious that Professor Hackerman was dedicated to the field of science. He was an excellent professor, scientist and chemist, and I think naming the building after him is a great way to honor his memory and contributions to science and UT.

2.  Carol Cummings Shaffer said on Jan. 15, 2009

Dr. Hackerman was my first chemistry professor at the university in the '60s. Even though it was a very large class, he made it a quite enjoyable, and often humorous, experience. I know he would be so pleased with the honor of the naming of this building.

3.  Harold Billings said on Jan. 15, 2009

I am so pleased to see this. During the half century that I spent at UT, I was able to observe the strength, skills and dedication that Dr. Hackerman brought to his several roles at UT, the improvements that he made at Rice, and his return to Austin, where in retirement he helped strengthen the Chemistry Library's Skinner Endowment.

4.  ALOOKMAN1 said on Jan. 15, 2009

I had the honor of having Dr. Hackerman's freshman chemistry class at 8 a.m. in 1969, and he was the president of UT. How cool is that?

By the way, he disliked Daily Texan readers in his class and, for that matter, the nappers!

5.  David Wallace, RPh said on Jan. 15, 2009

Dr. Hackerman was one of my professors back early in school. I always looked up to him and respected him. He was a fair individual, and I believe he'll be sorely missed.

6.  Gilbert Garcia said on Jan. 15, 2009

I was at UT when Dr. Hackerman was "run off" by Frank Erwin, then chairman of the UT Board of Regents. I didn't realize that Dr. Hackerman later returned to UT. I am glad that he was able to influence a new generation of UT students and that UT is honoring him by naming the science building after him.

7.  Carl E. Locke, Jr said on Jan. 16, 2009

As a chemical engineering student (1953-58) I had physical chemistry with Dr. Hackerman. I later got to know him through our mutual interest in corrosion. I also worked for and with several individuals who did their Ph.D. research under his guidance. His impact on the area of corrosion science and engineering was immense as a result of his own personal work and the accomplishments of his students. He was an amazing individual.

8.  Orville Neeley said on Jan. 19, 2009

I had Dr. Hackerman for chemistry in 1966-67. He was an interesting speaker and made the subject matter live. I always had a great deal of respect for him as a scientist, an educator and an administrator.

9.  Steve Hougen, M.D. said on Feb. 5, 2009

It was an honor to take freshman chemistry from Dr. Hackerman in 1969 when he was president of The University of Texas at Austin. He made it worth coming to that 8 a.m. class! The new building is named well.