The Hal H. Ramsey III Memorial Fund was established by an initial gift from Research Corporation in honor of Dr. Hal Ramsey. The fund is used to support the highest priorities of the Graduate Program in Microbiology, including fellowship and travel grants to students, recruiting new students and providing emergency funds.
Hal H. Ramsey III
The unexpected death of alumnus Hal H. Ramsey III on August 2, 1985, saddened his many friends and colleagues. For over 27 years he was a Regional Grants Director for Research Corporation, a foundation for the advancement of science and technology, and had recently been appointed the Foundation’s Director of Grants. He had served also as a member of the advisory Departmental Visiting Committee for the Microbiology Department at UT since 1983.
Born in Abilene, Texas, in 1926, Hal graduated from McAllen High School in 1943. Following service in the U.S. Navy, he completed his undergraduate degree, as well as the M.S. (1950) and Ph.D. (1953) degrees in microbiology at The University of Texas. He served on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma from 1952 until 1958, rising to the rank of associate professor. He is credited as an author of twenty publications.
Hal joined the Research Corporation Grants Program in 1958, serving as Western Regional Director for over twenty-seven years. In addition to his Foundation duties, Hal was a Research Associate in Microbiology at Stanford University from 1959 to 1965. The addition of Texas institutions to the western region in 1964 permitted frequent visits “home” for this native son. In 1983, Hal moved to the new Tucson office where he was promoted to Director of Grants and assumed the additional responsibility of fund-raising.
Hal’s career with the Foundation was marked by the development of innovative programs. He originated the departmental grant concept in 1959 and successfully advocated such a grant to Lebanon Valley College. This first departmental grant led to a ten year program involving over $16 million in grants to over 100 institutions. Again in 1971, Hal laid out the framework for the Cottrell College Science Grants Program as a means to support undergraduate research at private, undergraduate colleges. This program is a mainstay of the Foundation’s activities and over 1,000 grants have been made, totaling more than $11 million (as of 1985). Both of these programs have been imitated by other organizations, testifying to Hal’s role as a foundation innovator.
Hal was a valued advisor to hundreds of academic scientists. During his travels, Hal often had opportunities to use his position as an advocate in constructive, creative ways. Around 1973, Hal was most favorably impressed with a group of young, unemployed astronomers. Determined to study astronomy, whether or not they were paid for it, the founders of MIRA (Monterey Institute for Research in Astromony, LINK http://www.mira.org/) were an unlikely bunch on which to bet $80,000 of scarce foundation dollars, but Hal convinced the Research Corporation advisory committee to do just that. From that initial seed grant, MIRA has grown to be a shining star in the firmament of modern observatories.
Hal’s expertise in academic and grants matters was recognized in recent years by organizations other than his own. He was appointed chairman of the Seaver Fund at Pomona College and was one of the architects in its design. This fund makes awards to Pomona College science faculty. An appointment that gave Hal a great deal of satisfaction was the membership on the Visiting Committee for his alma mater, the Microbiology Department at The University of Texas at Austin. It was a vote of confidence from the folks back home.
Simplicity, honesty and integrity were qualities that stood out in Hal. He practiced the first and abhorred obfuscation. Because he was innately honest, he found it heard to comprehend when others were not. For all these reasons, his many friends and colleagues will miss him greatly.