HRI Mourns Loss of GOMURC's Bill Hogarth


A letter from HRI Chair for Gulf Strategies Dr. Larry McKinney and Louisiana State University's Dr. Chris D'Elia

We note with great sadness the passing of our esteemed colleague and friend, Dr. William “Bill” Hogarth. Bill was one of the founding members of, and inspirations for, the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative, an organization that we fondly refer to by its tongue-twisting acronym, “GOMURC." He, Dr. George Crozier of Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Dr. David Shaw of Mississippi State University, and the two of us met to strategize immediately after the announcement of the original board for the BP-funded $500 million, ten-year Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI). Unfortunately, not a single Gulf scientist had been named to the initial board, and with a vigorous voice and southern Virginia drawl that only he could project, Bill articulated strenuous objection. He proclaimed that omission was an outrageous insult to Gulf of Mexico science that Congress should do something about. We readily agreed with him that we needed to establish a five-state entity to speak for Gulf of Mexico science and scientists on GOMRI, and the rest, as they say, is history. GOMURC has come to be known not only as a voice for Gulf Science in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, but as a forum to increase visibility and communication among members of the Gulf’s coastal and marine academic and research community.

Bill’s leadership was a critical ingredient not only in establishing GOMURC, but in gaining its immediate credibility. Through his political savvy and many Capitol Hill connections gained through his days as NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, our nascent organization coalesced almost immediately into an effective advocate for Gulf coastal and marine science.

One of our first activities was to travel together to Washington D.C. to work directly with Congressional leaders and staffers who were writing the “Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act” or RESTORE Act. As GOMURC’s primary spokesman, Bill’s homespun and folksy manner was both disarming and effective. When we university representatives of all five Gulf states gathered together in the of Halls of Congress to articulate a common vision and goal of getting Gulf science get the recognition it deserved, Congress took note immediately. Given his stature and connections, Bill was often front and center in our meetings in Washington, DC, and his trusted and informed opinions carried great weight. RESTORE drafters and supporters came to call regularly on GOMURC, often through Bill, as arbitrators of science and the Gulf when various factions sought to insert their partisan views into the legislation. They asked, and we answered in unison. We believe that the Gulf Centers of Excellence exist because GOMURC kept them from being dropped from the RESTORE Act.

Not only did Bill bring political acumen to GOMURC, but he also secured initial support funding from the University of South Florida Foundation, and he offered to house GOMURC’s first coordinator, Andy Shepard, within the Florida Institute of Oceanography. This commitment helped one of us (Larry McKinney) to secure matching funds from the Harte Research Support Foundation to further ensure GOMURC’s sustainability in later years.

Bill, even in retirement, was a constant supporter of GOMURC and Gulf science. Indeed, there was only one Bill Hogarth, and his loss is profound to us and the larger Gulf of Mexico community. All of GOMURC can take pride in what Bill helped establish, and we can best honor him by continuing to advance his vision for a united community working for the future of the Gulf and our nation.

Chris D’Elia, College of the Coast and Environment, Louisiana State University
Larry McKinney, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi