Dr. William Brice, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown professor emeritus in geology and planetary science, received the Gerald M. and Sue T. Friedman History of Geology Distinguished Service Award. The award was presented to Dr. Brice at the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting held in October in Houston, Texas. The GSA is a professional organization that unites thousands of earth scientists from every corner of the globe for a common purpose to study the mysteries of the planet and to share scientific findings.
The Gerald M. and Sue T. Friedman History of Geology Distinguished Service Award was created in 2005 and is given from time to time to an individual or individuals for exceptional service to the advancement of “our knowledge of the history of the geological sciences.” This service may include, but is not limited to, the discovery of and making available rare source materials; comprehensive bibliographic surveys; organizing meetings and symposia in the history of geology, and exceptional service to the Division.
A Johnstown resident, Dr. Brice was on the Pitt-Johnstown faculty from 1971 through 2005 and was a visiting professor in earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell University from 1976 until 2002. Dr. Brice also served as a visiting lecturer and researcher at the University of Tasmania (Australia) in 1978 and at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, SP, Brazil in 1992 and 2001. He has been an active member of the GSA for more than 20 years. Dr. Brice was a member of the Division’s nominating committee from 1985-1989, on the chair’s rotation from 1993-1996, and secretary/treasurer/newsletter editor from 1998-2007. He was a charter member in 1981 of the History of Earth Sciences Society (HESS); president-elect 2001-2003 and president 2003-2005 and continues to actively engage colleagues around the world in Society activities and in publishing on topics of historical interest in the Society’s journal, Earth Sciences History, for which he currently serves as an associate editor.
He was a member of the North American Section of the Hutton-Lyell Bicentary Committee meetings in London, Edinburgh, and Toronto, 1997-1998; board of directors, Drake Well Foundation, vice president 2001-2003, and president in 2003. He was a founding member and inaugural president of the Petroleum History Institute and in 2003 he became editor, production manager, supervisor of publishing, and chief contributor to Oil Industry History, the only peer-reviewed journal devoted to the history of the oil and gas industry.
Dr. Brice has published numerous papers related to the history and geology and the history of the oil and gas industry and continues his scholarly work on a sustained level with the biography of Edwin Drake that is to be published in the spring of 2009 as part of the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Drake Well at Titusville, Pa. He also has been an active member in the National Association of Geoscience Teachers since 1971, where he served as an associate editor, Journal of Geoscience Education, and as secretary-treasurer of the Eastern Section/NAGT from 1976-1992. He also has been a member of the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG), where he served as a member of the Education Committee, 1993-1994.
While his classes and students were his main focus while at Pitt-Johnstown, Dr. Brice also served as president of the Faculty Senate in the early 1970s, and served on numerous faculty committees during his tenure at Pitt-Johnstown. He was one of the faculty developers of the Geology Major at the Johnstown campus, and was the Department Coordinator for many years. In the late 1970s, he and a colleague, the late Dr. Harold Fry, developed the first “Audio-tutorial” or self-taught geology class at Pitt-Johnstown, and working with the Pitt-Johnstown Audio-Visual Department, Dr. Brice did the same thing using video taped lessons for an astronomy class. Ten years later, Dr. Brice, also working with the Pitt-Johnstown Audio Visual Department, created a series of 10 video tape geology programs that were distributed via the local cable company. These were part of a for-credit class in earth science that was offered on the local cable channel. From 1993-1997 he served as chairperson of the Division of Natural Sciences. And in the 1970s and into the 1980s, Dr. Brice was the lighting designer and supervisor for all of the Pitt-Johnstown theatre productions and musicals that were performed at the old Richland High School auditorium, and he continued working some of the Theatre Department productions when the new theater was built in the renovated Student Union, before the construction of the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center. In 2003 Dr. Brice received the Dr. Edward A. Vizzini Teacher of the Year Award in the Division of Natural Sciences and in 2004 his work was recognized with the Pitt-Johnstown President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. During the fall of 2005, the last semester of teaching before retirement, Dr. Brice was a member of the faculty on the Semester-at-Sea program on which he taught three earth science classes. He joined with 28 faculty and 700 students on MV Explorer for a 100-day voyage around the world, with stops in 11 different ports, including Myanmar (Burma) and the Island of Mauritius. Dr. Brice retired from active teaching in December 2005 at the end of the Semester-at-Sea voyage.
Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. A vital knowledge center and a foremost contributor to the area’s educational, social, cultural, and economic environment, Pitt-Johnstown offers a high quality educational experience that is purposefully designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century.