CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Enjoying a Cajun-style shrimp boil in the breezy weather of October is how the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s College of Science and Engineering (COSE) hosted the 2017 Alumni Shrimp Boil on Oct. 28, at the Laguna Madre Field Station. Boats transferred alumni, donned in jeans and t-shirts, from Clem’s Marina to the Field Station throughout the day to have fun, eat great food and to honor Dr. David McKee, Professor Emeritus of Marine Biology, and Dr. Alan Berkebile, Professor Emeritus of Geology.
“It’s important to honor the people who have made contributions to the COSE and to foster connections to the University and the community,” said Dr. Frank Pezold, Dean of the COSE at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “The Shrimp Boil is something that our alumni can look forward to and it brings attention to the field station, which is unique to the Island University.”
During the event, Mckee and Berkebile were honored by having their names engraved on a brass plate which will be hung in the Dean’s suite on campus. Both were also given a light blue award to symbolize the University that they’ve helped to grow.
“These extraordinary men have made significant contributions to our college,” said Michele Roth, Office Manager in the COSE at the Island University. “Dr. Alan Berkebile has made remarkable contributions to the geology and environmental science programs and Dr. David McKee laid the groundwork for our maricultural program and wrote the book on Laguna Madre fishes.”
Dr. Berkebile came to Corpus Christi State University in 1981 from Southampton College in New York to establish the Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. His initial tasks were to develop the geology curriculum, establish new geology courses and build up the lab equipment and collections. He contributed to the establishment of the Conrad Blucher Institute in the late 1980s and continued to lead the development of another Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Environmental Science. He was named Regents Professor of Geology in 2001, the highest honor that the University bestows upon a member of the faculty, and retired in 2004. After this retirement, he was named Professor Emeritus of Geology in 2005 and he, along with his wife Martha, continues to give back to the Island University through the Dr. C. Alan and Martha S. Berkebile Endowed Scholarship.
“My time at A&M University-Corpus Christi was a great experience,” said Berkebile. “Everything that happened was always interesting and exciting.”
Dr. David McKee, a native to South Texas, came to the Island University and served as a graduate faculty member in a variety of graduate programs that include Biology, Fisheries and Mariculture, Coastal and Marine systems science and Marine Biology. With a love of fishing and the outdoors, he created the Master of Science in Fisheries and Mariculture program which began in 1989 as a Mariculture track within the Master of Science in Biology program. It became a standalone program in 2010 with McKee serving as the coordinator. The program included more than 100 graduates, 95 percent of which were either hired upon graduation or moved on to Ph.D. programs. He served as the Associate Director of the A&M-Corpus Christi Laguna Madre Field Station and is still a current active Board Member of the Corpus Christi Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association.
“I miss the students and my colleagues the most,” said McKee. “I was blessed with the career that I had and remember it fondly.”
Currently, the College of Science and Engineering is a thriving and bustling college with more than 300 faculty members, 50 staff members and more than 3,000 students. Many of the alumni in attendance were positively impacted by both professors during their time at the Island University, including Jay McGovern, Owner and Chief Geologist of McGovco LLC.“Dr. Berkebile was my professor and that’s why I decided to attend the event,” shared McGovern who graduated from Corpus Christi State University in 1982. “He’s a great human being and someone that I wanted to come honor today.”