Robert R. Furgason
Robert Furgason earned a bachelor's (‘56) and a master's (’58) in chemical engineering at the University of Idaho. In 1961, he received a doctorate in chemical engineering from Northwestern University and an Honorary Doctorate degree from the University of Idaho in 2006.
Furgason began his distinguished academic career as an instructor in the department of chemical engineering at the University of Idaho in 1957. In the early sixties he served as an assistant professor, then as associate professor, and in 1967, became professor of chemical engineering. He served as chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1965 to 1974.
In 1974, Furgason was named dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Idaho and in 1978, vice president for academic affairs and research. Furgason moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1984, to take on the role as the vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Nebraska.
In 1990, Furgason became the first president of Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC). His 13-year tenure was marked by unprecedented growth in enrollment, programs and facilities as well as numerous awards for the University’s academic programs. Over $185 million of construction occurred on the A&M-Corpus Christi campus during his tenure as president.
Furgason became the first executive director of the Harte Research Institute (HRI) in January 2005. While at the HRI, Furgason oversaw the development of the new Institute, from the earliest planning stages through the construction of the state-of-the-art facility. He also played a key role in bringing the endowed chairs and other personnel onboard. Since its inception in 2004, the HRI has become the premier research institute for advancing the long-term sustainability and conservation of the Gulf of Mexico. Through its trilateral relationship with Mexico and Cuba, the HRI has established and activated an agenda to promote excellence in conservation, research and innovative public policy.
Philanthropist Edward H. Harte, whose $46 million endowed gift paved the way for the Institute’s creation, said that Furgason, while president of A&M-Corpus Christi, participated actively in the incubation of the ideas behind the Harte Research Institute.
Furgason has been pivotal to the establishment and success of the Harte Research Institute,” said Harte. “He has been part of everything we have done, and we owe him a great debt.
He stepped down from his post as executive director of the Harte Research Institute in 2008.
Within the Corpus Christi community, Furgason and his wife, Gloria, have been tireless champions for the performing arts. They led fundraising efforts to expand the South Texas Institute for the Arts, build the University’s $18 million Performing Arts Center and bring internationally-known artists to Corpus Christi through the Gloria and Robert R. Furgason Bravo! Series for the Performing Arts.
Furgason is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Beta Delta and the Phi Eta Sigma honor societies. He has received over 25 awards including the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Grinter Award, the American Society of Engineering Education Centennial Medalist, the University of Idaho Alumni Hall of Fame award and the University of Idaho Outstanding Teaching Award to name a few. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and is a Fellow of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and served as its president.
Furgason and Gloria, his wife, reside in Corpus Christi, Texas. They have two sons, Steven and Brian.