Former A&M VP Ewing Dies

By: Chace Murphy Email
By: Chace Murphy Email

The former Texas A&M University vice president for research has died.

Authorities believe Richard Ewing was driving his 2008 Acura Wednesday shortly after 7 p.m. when he suffered an apparent heart attack.

The car was then involved in a one-vehicle accident at the intersection of Rudder Freeway and Harvey Mitchell Parkway in College Station.

Brazos County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace George Boyett pronounced Ewing, 61, dead. Boyett says no autopsy was ordered and he will sign the death certificate once one is presented to him.

Police say no foul play is suspected, although an exact cause of death has not been determined.

Ewing was named A&M vice president for research in 2000. He held the position until earlier this year when he stepped down.

At the time, the university was under fire from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after pair of 2006 incidents in which researchers were infected with bioagents.

However, A&M interim president Eddie Davis said at the time Ewing's resignation was not forced.

As vice president for research, Ewing was ultimately responsible for all research activities on campus.

Ewing resigned at the end of August, but retained the title of Responsible Official for A&M with the CDC. The role is required of all agencies conducting bioagent research.

Ewing was also a distinguished professor of mathematics and the director of the Institute for Scientific Computation. He was also dean of A&M's College of Science from 1992-2000.

Ewing earned his bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D from the University of Texas at Austin. He came to A&M in 1992 from the University of Wyoming.

The following is a press release from Texas A&M on Richard Ewing's career:

COLLEGE STATION, Dec. 6, 2007 – Dr. Richard E. Ewing, world-renowned scientist in mathematics, engineering and computational sciences and longtime vice president for research at Texas A&M University, died Wednesday (December 5) of an apparent heart attack, according to his family. He was 61.

Funeral arrangements are pending for the internationally eminent scholar and statesman, who came to Texas A&M in 1992 as dean of the College of Science, a position he held until 2000, when he was appointed as vice president for research at Texas A&M.

During a 33-year-career that successfully bridged the gap between academia and industry, Ewing received widespread recognition for profound discoveries and key contributions to numerous fields of research, including numerical analysis and modeling, upscaling techniques for fluid flow in porous media and petroleum reservoir modeling.

As vice president for research, Ewing made perhaps his greatest impact on both Texas A&M and the world overseeing creative scholarship, graduate studies and sponsored research throughout the university and earning worldwide acclaim as one of the driving forces behind Texas A&M’s rise to international research and educational prominence. According to colleagues locally and across the globe, his visionary leadership and global reputation as an ambassador of research collaboration, educational excellence and related consensus-building were eclipsed only by his renown for graciousness and professionalism during every step of the process.

“It is my opinion that Dick Ewing has done more than any other person to contribute to the substantial growth in research infrastructure and faculty talent here at Texas A&M — first as dean of science for eight years and then as vice president for research for seven more,” said Dr. H. Joseph Newton, dean of the College of Science who served as a department head and as executive associate dean of science under Ewing. “He was my administrative mentor and great friend, and I will miss him terribly.”

Earlier this year, Ewing had returned to the College of Science, where he held the Mobil Technology Company Chair in Computational Science and was a distinguished professor of mathematics and applied mathematics. In addition, he was a professor of engineering and held a Distinguished Research Chair in the Texas Engineering Experiment Station. He held previous faculty positions at several universities — most recently the University of Wyoming from 1983 to 1992 — and was also a senior research mathematician and director of the Mathematical Modeling Group for the Mobil Research and Development Corporation.

“The entire Aggie family mourns the death of Dr. Richard E. Ewing,” said Dr. Ed Davis, interim president of Texas A&M. “His significant contributions here at Texas A&M serving as Vice President for Research and on a global scale as a world-renowned scientist in mathematics, engineering and computational sciences will benefit mankind for years to come. Dr. Ewing was unquestionably an outstanding scholar, an exceptional teacher and a beloved friend who will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Ewing also served as director of the Institute for Scientific Computation at Texas A&M, which he founded in 1992 and used to forge a number of long-term strategic research alliances with many foreign partners, including Mexico, China and Qatar.

Dr. William Rundell, professor of mathematics at Texas A&M, said Ewing had been a colleague and, more importantly, a friend to him since 1972, the year they both got out of graduate school. Two decades later as former head of the Department of Mathematics from 1991 to 2002, Rundell helped recruit Ewing to Texas A&M.

“Dick’s achievements form a legacy – tremendous mathematics, countless students who received the best training imaginable, superb administration,” Rundell said. “But most of all, he was a wonderful human being who always gave more than he took. Endless energy was a trademark, but what truly distinguished him was his kindness, particularly to those from whom he could not benefit.”

Another Texas A&M mathematician, Dr. Raytcho Lazarov, an Institute for Scientific Computation colleague who has known Ewing since their professorial days at the University of Wyoming, described Ewing as a pioneer in mathematical modeling and large-scale scientific computation, starting with his Ph.D. thesis on inverse problems.

“Dick has made fundamental contributions to every important subject in numerical analysis, mathematical modeling and scientific computing,” Lazarov noted. “In fact, he has done so much that it would take days to describe it all. Dick’s life was devoted to science and to helping, in the best possible way, all of us to do science.”

Ewing earned his doctor of philosophy, master of arts, and bachelor of arts degrees in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to tenured positions at Ohio State University and the University of Wyoming, he held a National Science Foundation energy-related post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago and a visiting position in the Mathematics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Ewing authored or co-authored more than 350 publications and 15 books and made more than 500 invited talks and presentations in 35 countries. He served on the editorial boards for 12 major national and international scientific journals and held membership in numerous international math and science organizations.

Ewing had extensive experience in forging industrial partnerships through his research collaborations, and he served on the boards of directors of numerous organizations, including the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine, the Houston Technology Center, the Texas A&M Research Foundation, the Associated Western Universities Group, the Southwestern Universities Research Association, and the Texas Healthcare and Biosciences Institute.

In recognition of his scholarly and professional service efforts, Ewing earned many coveted honors and awards, including the prestigious Humboldt Research Award in 2005 from Germany for senior U.S. scientists. Last year, the Richard Ewing Award for Excellence in Science, Technology And Economic Development was established to recognize his many accomplishments.

Ewing is survived by his wife, Rita, of College Station; three sons, John Ewing and wife, Karen, Larry Ewing and wife, Kristy; and Brad Ewing and Lexi Bateman, all of Austin; and three granddaughters, Sarah, Eva and Katherine, all of Austin.

In lieu of flowers or other offerings, memorials may be made to Hospice Brazos Valley, 502 W. 26th St., Bryan, Texas 77801. Cards, letters and other written forms of condolences also may be addressed to the Richard E. Ewing Family in care of the Department of Mathematics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3368.

Memorial condolences also may be made online at http://isc.tamu.edu/ewing-memorial.

For more on Ewing, including a complete curriculum vita, please visit http://isc.tamu.edu/people/new-staff-folder/ewing-richard.html.


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