Commemorating Bob Menzer at Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences

Bill Dennison ·
28 May 2013
Science Communication | Learning Science | 

On May 16, Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences (MEES) students, faculty and alumni gathered in the newly renovated HJ Patterson Hall on the University of Maryland College Park campus in honor of Dr. Robert E. "Bob" Menzer. The occasion was the formal opening of the new Robert E. Menzer Classroom and Central Administration suite. Two state of the art electronic classrooms, offices, and conference room were unveiled. In the Science for Environmental Science class that I had just finished teaching, we had connected to these College Park classrooms, but this was the first time I had seen them in person, rather than virtually. The facility is a vast improvement over the previous MEES facilities in the old Cole Field House.

Bob Menzer traveled up from his home in Florida for the event, and many of his family attended as well. Bob was the foundation director of the MEES program upon its inception in 1978. Bob left the University of Maryland in 1989 to head up the Environmental Protection Agency's Gulf Breeze Laboratory near Pensacola, Florida (now called the Gulf Ecology Division) until his retirement.

Bob had a long career in the Department of Entomology at University of Maryland and, in addition to being the MEES Director, he also was the Director of the Water Resources Research Center. Bob was a huge help to me in both roles, as he helped me with my initial graduate student supervision through the MEES Program and also administered grants that I received throughout the Water Resources Research Center. In addition to having the vision to lead these programs, Bob also looked after the details in both programs. An example of this attention to detail was a phone call that I received from Bob following a field trip to southern Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of Hungars Creek (Murray et al., 1992). In collaboration with Drs. Michael Kemp and Laura Murray, I was investigating the interactions between nutrients and seagrasses. Mike and I had a Water Resources grant and Laura had a grant from Salisbury University where she was teaching and we booked two hotel rooms to house our field team – comprised of Research Experiences for Undergraduate students, Salisbury students, Laura and me.  It worked out that we had three women and three men and we used two rooms: a 'boys room' and 'girls room'. But when it came to sharing the costs, I put in for one room on the Water Resources grant and listed only Laura and myself, since we were Principal Investigators on the grant. Laura was reimbursed for the other room through Salisbury University. What caught Bob's attention was the apparent shared hotel room between me and Laura and he called to clarify, since he did not want us to be doing anything illicit on the grant that he administered. We had a good laugh over this initial confusion, but it illustrates the attention to detail that Bob gave to the programs that he administered.

The event was attended by Drs. Brit Kirwin, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, Joanne Broughman, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Wallace Loh, President of University Maryland, Mary Ann Rankin, Provost of University of Maryland, and Jayanth Banavar, Dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Science. From UMCES, President Don Boesch, Vice President for Education Ed Houde, Horn Point Director Mike Roman attended. In addition, Rita Colwell, Emeritus Professor and former National Science Foundation Director attended and Board of Regents Pat Florestano was also there. Jayanth Banavar was the Master of Ceremonies and he was supported by Ken Paynter, MEES Director and Debbie Morrin-Nordlund, MEES Assistant Director. Jayanth unveiled a nice portrait of Bob Menzer that will be permanently on display at the center.

Ribbon cutting Menzer Center
Ribbon cutting at Menzer center dedication ceremony. Left to right: Drs. Jayanth Banavar, Pat Florestano, Don Boesch, Brit Kirwin, Rita Colwell, and Mary Ann Rankin.

Although Bob protested that "too much fuss" was being made over him, it was nice that his contributions historically and recently were celebrated by a very nice event. Too often in academic life, we neglect to recognize those who make substantial contributions in many different ways to the research and education enterprise. Many of the people I spoke with lamented this reality and were glad that, at least in this case, we did the right thing by making "too much fuss" over Bob Menzer, a class act.

Bob Menzer portrait 2013
Sara Lee and Bob Menzer at the unveiling of Bob’s portrait.


Murray, L, Dennison WC, Kemp WM. 1992. Nitrogen versus phosphorus limitation for growth of an estuarine population of eelgrass (Zostera marina L.). Aq. Botany 44: 83-100.

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.

Next Post > Scientific synthesis at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science: Part 4--Moving beyond synthesis

Post a comment