Jim Hunt, CEE faculty member for 33 years, an expert in groundwater transport of organic contaminants and former Co-Director of the Berkeley water Center (BWC), died on Feb. 20 after a brief illness. He was 66.
Jim joined the Berkeley faculty in 1980. He is best known for his work on contaminant transport in porous media such as groundwater aquifers. He was widely admired for his fairness and selflessness, and for being supportive and kind to students, staff, and faculty colleagues. Jim was a devoted teacher and mentor, and was also well-known for keeping graduate students on their toes both in the classroom and in PhD qualifying exams.
“Jim was my faculty mentor and role model,” said David Sedlak, BWC Co-Director. “He taught me the importance of being a critical thinker, especially when it seems like the accepted approach to solving a problem doesn’t seem to be working. Leading by example, he also showed us the importance of selflessness and putting the interest of students first. We miss him.”
Jim served the campus in numerous leadership roles, including service as a member of the Budget Committee and Divisional Council, and as Associate Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Facilities. He also directed the Berkeley Water Center and the Institute for Environmental Science and Engineering. Jim visited campuses across the country as a program evaluator for the Engineering Accreditation Board (ABET). He was appointed to the Lawrence E. Peirano Endowed Chair in 1999, which he held until his retirement in 2013.
On the occasion of his retirement, Jim gave a seminar to a standing room only crowd. His students, current and former, all donned specially designed and personalized t-shirts commemorating some of Jim's famous sayings for the event (photo below). See T-shirts Commemorate Famous Jim Huntisms.
His daughter Dana, now a faculty member at Duke University, writes "Berkeley had a very special place in his heart--I hope you can communicate that to the faculty."