Faculty Awards and Honors

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Robert Gray

Annual Faculty Lecturer 2009-2010

Dr. Bob Gray grew up in an orphanage in Altadena, California. At 17, he started college at Los Angeles Valley Community College. His original career goal was to be an athletic coach. Bob went out for the LA Valley track team. Bob’s track coach explained that his Physical Geology class needed students, so he signed the team up for his class. That’s how Bob Gray discovered his life’s calling.

At 18, he left Los Angeles and went to Idaho to work and decided to go to college at the University of Idaho. He earned two Bachelor of Science degrees: one in Geological Engineering and one in Naval Science.

Upon graduation, the U.S. Navy got him. He served 3 years on active duty (and another 18 years in the Naval Reserves in Naval Oceanography and Intelligence). Bob then returned to college – this time at the University of Arizona – and earned an M.S. in Geology. His Master’s thesis was mapping rock units on the edge of the Grand Canyon. He then went to work for the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona and later for a mining company in the Four Corners area, exploring for copper mineral deposits.

After earning his Ph.D. in Geology, he worked in petroleum exploration as a Research Geologist out of Denver. He loved his job, and fieldwork was his passion. He scoured the Four Corners mapping algal carbonate rocks. He mapped from Sedona, Arizona to Rock Springs, Wyoming, and from Denver, Colorado, to Ely and Elko, Nevada. He authored papers on carbonate rocks of the Four Corners region, and on paleontology and sedimentation of non-marine sediments in southern Arizona.

In 1967, Bob switched career paths and came to Santa Barbara City College as an interim geology instructor, a stepping-stone to a four-year university position. Instead, he discovered the joy of “hands-on” teaching at the community college level. He loved working with college students, showing them the wonders of geology.

Almost immediately, he got in on the bottom floor of program-building here at SBCC. He helped create the Marine Technology Program; build the new Life Science-Geology Building (now Earth and Biological Sciences); establish the Geology Majors Program and a two-year Geoscience Technology Program.

Through his contributions, the SBCC Earth and Planetary Sciences Department has developed into a geology program that is second-to-none in the California Community College system. His hard work, field excursions, and the scientific grants that he has written and won over the years have helped to build up the department’s collections of rocks, minerals, fossils, maps and geology field equipment that rival the collections of many four-year geology departments.

Bob Gray is also the “go to” Paleontology Consultant for the Tri-Counties region for the past 25 years. He has authored Paleontological EIRs for numerous California projects.


Bob has received numerous awards over the years. Most notable was the Grover E. Murray Memorial Distinguished Educator Award from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists at their international annual meeting in 2008. This award is given to only one college geology educator in all of the United States per year. Bob is the only community college educator to receive this award since its inception.

Some of his other notable awards include the “Thomas Dibblee Distinguished Lecturer Award” from the Santa Barbara Gem and Mineral Society in 2006, the “SBCC Faculty Excellence Award” in 2003, the “John Woolley Outstanding Undergraduate College Educator Award” from the Coast Geological Society in 2003, the Pacific Section American Association of Geologists “Distinguished Educator Award” in 1998, and SBCC’s Cal Reynolds’s Award for his outstanding service to SBCC in promoting student activities in 1981 and 1982.

In 2006, Bob was honored by the Dibblee Geology Center at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History when they published a geologic map in his name. On certain appropriate occasions, the Dibblee Center releases a new published geologic map to honor an outstanding geologic professional whose “work has been of significant value in promoting field geology.” The Geologic Map of the Big Pine Mountain Quadrangle, Santa Barbara County, California is dedicated to him.

Bob is a tireless volunteer in our community. He leads/assists the YMCA
Fit for Life Senior Fitness class two to three times a week. He represents SBCC at almost every local elementary school science fair. He gives talks to various geological organizations, scientific societies and community groups whenever asked.  For over 16 years he coordinated the Santa Barbara City College Geology Club’s “Mucker’s Ball” – a 49ers style – event in which the SBCC Campus Center was transformed into the 1849 Mother Lode and Gambling Casino.

Outside his professional life, Bob met his wife, Marcia, at a country-western dance class in 1990. Marcia propelled Bob into the world of country-western dance competition (think “Dancing with the Stars”). By 1996, they had competed their way to the top, and they became the World Champions in the Showcase Gold Division at the Country-Western Dance Competition
in Nashville, Tennessee.

Bob follows a path of dedication, excellence, enthusiasm and unstinting generosity. To his core, Bob believes that the beauty of SBCC’s geology program is not the new building, the scientific equipment, the extensive rock and paleontological collections, or even the nonpareil field geology program – it is the geology majors. Bob has an infectious love for geology and a passion to teach by caring. But in caring, he would tell you that he demands excellence and is relentless in dogging his students to do better and to excel to their utmost. Bob knows that true teaching must be concerned with the whole student, whose attitude, orientation and performance is formed by a multitude of experiences.

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