Dr. Robert N. Farvolden, retired UW professor of Earth Sciences and a former Dean of Science, died September 13 after a battle with cancer. He was 67.
Farvolden, a hydrogeologist, came to Waterloo in 1970 as Chair of the Department Earth Sciences and then as Dean from 1977 to 1982. During his time at UW he helped found the graduate program in hydrogeology and was a centra1 figure in the founding and growth of the Waterloo Centre for Groundwater Research, designated a Centre of Excellence by the Ontario government in 1988. At that time he was appointed Chair of Regional Hydrogeology for the WCGR.
Farvolden received the Award for Distinguished Service in Hydrogeology — honouring Dr. George Burke Maxey, an American hydrogeologist and Farvolden's mentor — from the Geological Society of America in 1992. He retired from UW in 1993, but continued to be active in groundwater work until this summer.
At the time of his death he was a Distinguished Professor Emeritus and a member of the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada.
Following his vision, former students of Farvolden are now the foundation of the flourishing professional discipline of international groundwater science. His students teach at universities in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and Nigeria.
Farvolden was keen on bringing his expertise to the world. Field projects and consulting had taken him to the Middle East, Africa and most regions of North America. He began the modern era of hydrogeology in Canada after establishing the Groundwater Division of the Alberta Research Council in 1960, and then completed his Ph.D. in groundwater geology in 1963 under Maxey at the University of Illinois.
Projects at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada and teaching at Illinois followed. He then returned to Canada and the University of Western Ontario as Canada's first professor of hydrogeology. On a 1976-1977 sabbatical leave, Farvolden spent time with UNESCO in Paris. "His positive influence on his profession has been without equal; he will be fondly remembered for his kindness, his mentoring of young scientists, his enthusiasm and his vision for a better world," said John Cherry, a colleague at the WCGR and Farvolden's friend since 1964.
Farvolden was born in Forestburg, Alberta, on May 22, 1928. He is survived by his wife June Marie and his children Judith Margaret and Peter Gordon.