From The Natural Hazards Center: Remembering Bill Anderson

From Board President Mike Clarke: We will always be grateful for the enthusiastic support and leadership Dr, Bill Anderson provided for PLANIT NOW, NFP, leading our scholarship program and finalizing every one of the $100,000. scholarships we’ve awarded so far as the Board member in charge of Scholarships for PLANIT NOW. His wife Norma is also a genuine supporter and connected us with many people who helped get YMP to students from economically-challeneged neighborhoods and school districts. He will be sorely missed. ” More on Bill from PIN in March in recognition of life celebration events being held in his honor in the Northeast.

The Natural Hazards Center sends condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Dr. William A. (Bill) Anderson. Bill was a pioneer in the field of disaster loss reduction and his passing is truly a loss for our community. He died in December after a bicycling accident in Hawaii.

He was a mentor and friend to generations of hazards and disaster researchers and a giant in the field. His loss will leave us bereft both professionally and personally, as indicated by NSF Program Officer Dennis Wenger in this recent tribute:

“The world seems emptier today,” he wrote. “Bill’s character, dignity, integrity, humanity, and altruistic orientation made the world a better place. As the ultimate gentleman and colleague, when he interacted with you, he made you feel appreciated and significant. For all of us who viewed Bill as a friend, and I am sure that includes everyone, we have lost someone who made us better just by his presence in our lives.”

Bill was the National Science Foundation program officer for the Natural Hazards Center for more than two decades. He had a distinguished career in disaster risk reduction that spanned research, policy, and practice. After receiving a PhD in sociology at The Ohio State University (where he was a staff member at the Disaster Research Center) Bill accepted a faculty position at Arizona State University and rapidly achieved the rank of professor. He later moved to Washington, D.C., where he was the founding director of the American Sociological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program.

Following his time there he moved to the NSF, where he served for more than 25 years as a program officer responsible for research on the societal dimensions of hazards and disasters. While on leave from NSF he took a position with the Disaster Management Facility at the World Bank, where he was one of the architects of the ProVention Consortium. In 2001 he moved to the National Academy of Sciences to direct the Disasters Roundtable and serve as associate executive director of the Division on Earth and Life Studies.

Bill was influential in establishing many programs and initiatives, including the Enabling the Next Generation of Hazards Researchers project; the Second Assessment of Research on Natural Hazards; the NSF-sponsored earthquake engineering research and education centers; and the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES).

Bill is survived by his wife, Norma; daughter, Candice; and sister, Janice Spear. A Celebration of Life Service will be held March 22.  The family also plans to launch an on-line Memorial Guest Book in the near future, where those who knew him can post remembrances. The Natural Hazards Center will post that information as soon as it becomes available.

—Kathleen Tierney, Director, Natural Hazards Center