Ernest Thomas Smerdon

Dr. Ernest Thomas Smerdon "Ernie", age 84, of Tucson, Arizona died August 11, 2014 at the Cleveland Clinic due to heart disease. He was the father of Kathy (Tom) Myers of Kent. Ernie's dedication and significant contributions to higher education and global environmental issues is widely recognized and will be missed. He served as the Dean of Engineering at the University of Arizona for ten years (through 1997) and then spent three years directing engineering education programs at the National Science Foundation. He retired from the U of A in 2003.

Ernie dedicated his life to continued improvement in higher education and engineering. He graduated from the University of Missouri with B.S. in Engineering in 1951 and immediately served four years in the Air Force. Afterwards, he returned to his alma mater for his M.S. and Ph.D. in Engineering. Ernie pioneered research to address critical global issues in the areas of water resources and the environment. During his career he worked at Texas A&M, the University of Florida, the University of Texas, and then the University of Arizona. He held numerous senior positions including Vice Provost and Dean of Engineering at the University of Arizona, Vice-Chancellor for the University of Texas System in Austin and Senior Education Associate in the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation.

Ernie received many professional honors. He was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering and served as President of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by the University of Missouri. Both Arizona and Florida professional engineering societies named him "Engineer of the Year." The University of Arizona established the Ernest T. Smerdon Academic Center in the Engineering building. He received the highest award from ASEE and was also recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers with the OPAL Lifetime Achievement Award for Education.

Ernie was well loved and respected by his family and friends. He was very proud of his country heritage having been raised on a farm in the Missouri Ozarks. His strong focus on family and life-long values of hard work and dedication leave a legacy that will continue. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Joanne Duck Smerdon and three children: Tom (Susan), Kathy (Tom) and Gary (Sandra); grandchildren: John (Katie) Myers, David (Emilie) Myers, Anne Myers, Ann McGuigan, Molly McGuigan, Rebecca Smerdon, Benjamin Smerdon, Claire Smerdon, Camille Wheatley, Carl Wheatley; great-grandchildren: Allison Myers and Mary Myers. Former daughters-in-law Maureen Smerdon and Leigh McGuigan, brother, Glenn Smerdon and sister, Helen Barlow and many nieces and nephews, also survive him.

As his final gift to education, Ernie donated his body to the University of Arizona Medical School for education and research. His life will be celebrated at a memorial service in Tucson, Arizona this fall.

Donations can be made in his memory to the Coleman Foundation, the Kent United Church of Christ or to the Ernest and Joanne Smerdon Endowed Scholarship to support outstanding undergraduate students at the University of Arizona College of Engineering. Details can be found on the website http://engineering.arizona.edu/ernest-smerdon.

(RC 8-17-14)

Want to leave your condolences?

Sign in or Register to comment.