Endowed Geology Department Funds
Alumni continue to support two remarkable funds that allow majors to travel to do research, experience the discipline in the field or other labs, and to attend and present at conferences. We greatly appreciate the work and lives of the individuals honored by the funds as well as those who generously contribute to these funds. You make a real difference in the educational experience of many students.
The Samuel J. Kozak-Odell S. McGuire-Edgar W. Spencer-Frederik L. Schwab Geology Award
The "Kozak Award" was established in 2001 by Washington and Lee Geology Alumni to honor the memory of Dr. Kozak as well as the careers of Drs. Spencer and McGuire. Dr. Schwab's name was added to the award upon his retirement. The purpose of the fund is to provide financial support for geology students to conduct research and to prepare publications, to travel to professional meetings, and to present the results of their research.
Ed Spencer transferred to W&L from Vanderbilt University and graduated from Washington and Lee in 1953. After finishing his doctoral work at Columbia, he returned to W&L in 1958 as the second member of a two-person department. Soon after, Spencer became chair of the department and served in that capacity until 1995. He died in 2020.
Sam Kozak met Spencer in Montana while working on his thesis and came to W&L for a one-term replacement position. After finishing his Ph.D. at Iowa, he joined the W&L faculty in 1961 and remained an active member of the teaching faculty until his untimely death in 1997.
In 1962, Odell McGuire became the third member of what had been a two-person department and taught geology until his retirement in 1994. He died in 2008.
Fred Schwab joined the faculty at W&L in 1967 after finishing his doctorate at Harvard and most of his research focused on sedimentology. He retired from W&L in 2003.
All four professors were instrumental in shaping the academic success of the department and for developing strong, personal relationships with their students. What started as classroom, laboratory and field student-faculty relationships expanded into long-lasting friendships.
R. Preston Hawkins IV Geology Award
The Hawkins award was established in 2008 by family, friends, and colleagues of Preston Hawkins, geology major class of 1991, who died in an automobile accident in 2005. He loved geology field work as a student and spent his career as a field geologist, respected for his expertise in subsurface exploration in environmental, groundwater, engineering studies, and UXO remediation projects, with North American Exploration of Virginia (NAEVA) Geophysics, Inc. in Charlottesville, VA. He was an avid fishermen and outdoorsmen, and Preston was proud to have graduated one hundred years after his great-grandfather graduated from the same school, with the same name. Recent recipients of the Hawkins Award have conducted field research in Rockbridge County, the Appalachians, and Belize.
Edgar W. Spencer '53 Geology Field Research Fund
The Edgar W. Spencer '53 Geology Field Research Award was established in 2018 by Quinn T. Kiley '95 to support student field research under the supervision of W&L Geology faculty. Quinn was a geology major and established the Fund to honor his former professor and to recognize the transformative experience Washington and Lee provided him.
Ed himself was an undergraduate at W&L who studied geology. He went on to earn his PhD from Columbia University and was promptly asked to come back to W&L to teach in the Geology Department. That was 1957. Ed was been in the Geology Department until 2019, serving as Department Head, teaching numerous courses, getting students out in the field as much as possible, and mentoring decades' worth of majors, including Quinn.
Spencer taught courses on oceanography, meteorology, structural geology and geophysics, as well as seminars on Greek natural philosophy and the geology of the Pyrenees. His research, in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana and in the Appalachians, was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the American Geological Institute, the American Chemical Society and the Mellon Foundation. In 1990, he received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Virginia Council of Higher Education.
Spencer also focused on research, conducting fieldwork and leading countless field trips in the Blue Ridge Mountains and other parts of the world. He published geologic quadrangle maps of the Appalachian region and a map interpretation book and was the author of several textbooks on structural and introductory geology. He was the recipient of the Virginia Geological Field Conference's 2013 Anna Jonah Award for Outstanding Contribution to Virginia Geology. His most recent book, "Guide to the Geology and Natural History of the Blue Ridge Mountains" (2017), was named an Outstanding Title for 2018 by the American Library Association and was also named Best Guidebook of 2019 by the Geoscience Information Society.
If you would like to know more about these funds or how to contribute, please contact Jeff Rahl, Head of the Geology Dept.