A. Richard Seebass was born on March 27, 1936, in Denver, Colorado, the son of Alfred Richard Seebass Jr. and Marie Wright Seebass. He passed away on November 14, 2000 after a brief illness.
After graduating from Smiley Middle School and East High School in Denver, Dick attended Princeton University where he graduated magna cum laude in engineering in 1958 and earned a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering. He married Nancy Palm of Denver on June 19, 1958.
Dick continued his studies as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Cornell University, completing his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering in 1962, when he joined Cornell's faculty as an Assistant Professor. By 1972, he was Associate Dean of Cornell's College of Engineering. In 1975, he joined the University of Arizona as a Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, and of Mathematics, where he co-established the mathematics program.
In 1981, Dick joined the University of Colorado at Boulder as the Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. He championed a formal development plan for the College and led a successful Centennial Campaign that resulted in contributions of $52.5 million. Under his leadership, private gifts were committed to build the Gemmill Engineering Library, launch the Herbst Program of Humanities for Engineers, create the Lockheed Martin Engineering Management Program and triple the scholarships in the College. During his 13 years of stewardship, the College Founded several research centers, increased research revenues from $3 million to $30 million, and expanded the faculty from 95 to 156, bringing in many new faculty of national distinction. His administration's strategic plan set ambitious goals for increases in under-represented minority and women students and faculty in engineering, resulting in a doubling of their numbers during Dick's tenure. Recognizing Dick's vision for undergraduate educational reform, the College's innovative Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory was dedicated to him when it opened in April 1997.
Seebass also served as chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences from August 1995 through May 1999, leading a complete reform of the undergraduate curriculum. The department graduated its first class with the new interdisciplinary, hands-on curriculum in May 2000. In 1998 he established an External Advisory Board comprised of distinguished professors, aerospace industry leaders (both retired and active), and others interested in aerospace education. The EAB continues to provide guidance to the Department through the collective wisdom of its members over a decade later.
Professor Seebass was a nationally and internationally renowned aerodynamicist, whose research earned him several prestigious awards, including the Max Planck Research Award (shared with Helmut Sobieczky, 1991), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' William F. Durand Medal and Lectureship (1994) and the International Astronautics Federation's Frank J. Malina Medal (1994) for his contributions to space education. He received the College of Engineering's Centennial Medal in 1993, and the University Medal in 1994. Dick was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1985 for his fundamental contributions in aerodynamic theory related to the development of computational fluid mechanics and for service in engineering education.
When Dick came to CU-Boulder in 1981, it was a return to the Rocky Mountains that he loved. Home at last, he enjoyed many years of hiking and fly-fishing with family and friends near their cabin in Estes Park. Between his position as Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science and Chair of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, Dick and Nancy traveled extensively worldwide.
Dick's unselfish pursuit of excellence, his commitment to preparing the engineers of the future, and his friendship with the many people whose lives he touched are missed.