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Wayne and Judy Skaggs create endowment for water resources and hydrology research

Dr. R. Wayne Skaggs, a National Academy of Engineering member and retiring William Neal Reynolds and Distinguished University Professor of biological and agricultural engineering, with his wife, Judy, has created an endowment to support the continued research in his field of water, soil and plant systems management. The Wayne and Judy Skaggs Endowment for Water Resources and the Hydrology of Poorly Drained Lands was created Nov. 9 at N.C. State University’s McKimmon Center. The endowment was signed as part of festivities in commemoration of Skaggs’ career.

Skaggs entered phased retirement in July, after more than 42 years on the BAE faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. During his career, Skaggs has made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of agricultural and biological engineering as a teacher, mentor, researcher and national leader. He is recognized globally as the expert in drainage and subsurface water management.

Dr. Wayne Skaggs

During his professional career, Skaggs made pioneering contributions to the understanding and utilization of complex soil, water, and plant systems. His work includes the 1978 development of the water management model, DRAINMOD, which effectively combines fundamental methods derived over several decades by soil physicists and engineers to create a tool that quantitatively relates drainage design parameters to the actual objective of the water management system. This model has effectively bridged the gap that existed between theory and practice and is now used globally by consulting engineers, researchers and government agencies to predict the performance of drainage and related water management systems.

A native of eastern Kentucky, where he was raised on a farm, Skaggs earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Kentucky and his Ph.D. from Purdue University. In 1970 he joined the faculty at N.C. State University, where he was named William Neal Reynolds Professor in 1984. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1991 and named Distinguished University Professor that same year. In 1994, N.C. State presented Skaggs its highest faculty recognition, the Alexander Quarles Holladay Award. And in 1997, he received the O. Max Gardner Award, the UNC system’s highest award.

But of all his accomplishments, Skaggs takes the greatest pride in his students’ successes. He has served as major professor for 24 master’s degree students and 40 doctoral students, who have gone on to highly successful and productive careers.

The creation of the Wayne and Judy Skaggs Endowment was made possible through the generosity of the couple and the support of colleagues and industry partners. It will enable CALS to support accomplished faculty members who will contribute to the department’s overall teaching, research and extension mission. Research in drainage water management and the hydrology of poorly drained, shallow water table soils will continue to receive priority and emphasis through the endowment.