November 2003

photograph of Bob Gray in a white cowboy hat

Dr. Robert Gray
Earth and Planetary Sciences Department
SBCC Professor of Geology for 36 years
B.S. in Geological Engineering, Univ. of Idaho (1955
M.S. in Geology, Uinv. of Arizona (1959
Ph.D. in Geology and Paleontology, Uinv. of Arizona , (1965).

drawing of Bob Gray with rock hammer leaning on a rock outcrop

Quotations from nominator(s):

" Bob has the most genuine caring for his students that I have ever run across…(He) has a combination of enormous breadth and depth of knowledge and passion for geology that is rare…For many, many years Bob has been the kind of teacher that most of us would like be but few of us achieve as completely or consistently as he has. He is an extraordinary mentor who never seems to get weary of his students or his field, and continually maintains a high commitment to SBCC.”

Interview with Bob:

With his fair hair, trim figure, physical energy and boyish good looks, you would never suspect that Bob Gray, SBCC Professor of Geology, is working past the age at which many others have retired, and that he is, in fact, the 3rd longest-employed faculty member at SBCC. But it’s true! And, though he has taught here for 36 years, this is perhaps his third career, and far from the one he had originally sought. Raised in an orphanage and in foster homes, his love of sports led him to college, where he intended to become an athletic coach. A chance experience with a geology course started a lifetime passion, but after graduation he entered the U. S. Navy, in which he served for 21 years, rising to the rank of Commander. He returned to college to further his old interest in geology, earning both Masters and PhD degrees, then worked for 5 years in the mining and petroleum industries, doing research and field work. Field geology was a fascinating and fulfilling career for Bob, but a need to provide some stability for his young family led him to accept a temporary fill-in position at SBCC in 1967, where, with characteristic energy, he threw himself into developing programs for students heading towards the then-skyrocketing petroleum industry, and he soon got "too busy to leave.” He’s still here, and with no plans to leave.

Bob will tell you "You need a PASSION for your subject!” and that he certainly has. He says "You must teach by CARING!” but points out that caring involves having high and exacting standards for his students, so many of which have gone on to successful careers in geology; 4-year colleges call him regularly to ask if he has any more good students to send them. In 1998 the American Association of Petroleum Geologists selected him as the Distinguished Educator of the Year, the only Community College professor ever to win the award. A geologist first and foremost, he says things like "It begins with Rocks and ends with Rocks!” and "The best place to be is in the FIELD!”, always with an exclamation point. His heroes are James Hutton, the father of Historical Geology, and Kit Carson, the frontiersman who first explored the American West. Perhaps in line with this, he is also an avid Country-Western dancer, and in 1996 Bob and his wife won the World’s Championship in the Gold Division, revealing yet another unsuspected side of the multifaceted Bob Gray.

Where there are rocks, there you will find Bob Gray, his passion undiminished. The geology students at SBCC continue to benefit from his energy, enthusiasm, and commitment.