Chapter 6: Next Up to Bat: Richard Church

Dr. Church thumbnail

Golledge’s leadership was serving the Department well. However, he was unexpectedly losing his eyesight. Church, who had come to campus in January 1982, gotten tenure in July 1982, was abruptly tapped for the job. Church recollected, “I was the youngest full professor in the Department, and then to be Chair – trying to marshal people like Jack Estes and Dave Simonett! They’d been here for quite a period of time; I’d been here only a couple years. Being Chair was quite a challenge!”

During his four years at the helm, the Department underwent significant changes. Departmental computing grew from novelty to ubiquitous, cartography changed from paper to digital, a major research organization was established (NCGIA), and faculty hiring plans shifted from 1- to 5-year increments. Luc Anselin (into human spatial statistics and econometrics and who left in 1994), Hugo Loaiciga (specializing in hydrology), and Michael Goodchild (an expert in GIS) came aboard. Said Church of those years, “It was a blur. I was a very busy guy.”

Although the technologic changes during Church’s watch were massive, to understand them, one needs to see the larger picture – what went on before Church became Chair. Thus, the next Chapter, “Technologic Revolution,” will initially jump back to the 1970s before returning to the mid-80s.

Chapter 7: Technologic Revolution »