Remembering Professor Emeritus Dr. Kenneth Dickson | College of Science
February 6, 2024

Remembering Professor Emeritus Dr. Kenneth Dickson

Dr. Kenneth L. Dickson ('66, '68 M.S.), 80, Professor Emeritus of biological sciences, former director of the Institute of Applied Sciences and founder of UNT's Elm Fork Education Center, died Jan. 9 in Aubrey.

After graduating with a bachelor's in science education and a master's in biological sciences from UNT, where his mentor was Dr. J.K.G. Silvey, he earned a Ph.D. in aquatic ecology at Virginia Tech. He served on the faculty there for seven years and was the assistant director of its Center for Environmental Studies, evaluating chemicals and their effects on aquatic organisms.

In 1978, he began a 32-year career at UNT that focused on environmental connections between water, energy, agriculture, natural resources and sustainability, as well as collaborations between the community and the university. He joined UNT as a research scientist and the next year was named the director of the Institute of Applied Sciences, an interdisciplinary research consortium founded by Silvey. Under Dickson's guidance, the institute became widely recognized as a leader in environmental research.

Dickson pushed for the founding of the M.S. and Ph.D. programs in environmental science in the early 1990s. He also was instrumental in the creation of the Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building at UNT, which opened in 1998. Bringing together experimental and educational spaces for faculty across environmental disciplines, the EESAT was the first green building on campus. And thousands of schoolchildren have experienced the excitement of scientific discovery at the building's outdoor learning area through the Elm Fork Education Center, the environmental education outreach program that he founded and directed.

At UNT, Dickson earned distinguished research professorships, was named a Regents Professor, and received the President's Award and Ulys Knight Spirit Award. He also later served as dean of the Emeritus College, which became the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNT.

He was involved in the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry from its beginnings, serving on its board of directors and as president. He also served on the EPA's Science Advisory Board, worked locally with the city of Denton on wastewater treatment and other environmental issues, and was involved with the Greenbelt Alliance, the Upper Trinity Water Conservation Trust and many other organizations.

A remembrance and celebration service took place Jan. 28 at UNT's EESAT Building. Donations may be made in Dickson's name through UNT's Division of University Advancement.