James ‘Jim’ V. Taranik PhD ’75 of Reno, Nev., died June 21, 2011. Jim was born in 1940 in Los Angeles and graduated from Stanford University in 1964 with a bachelors ‘degree in geology. He then studied at Mines and earned his doctorate in geology. Jim worked in NASA’s space shuttle program for four years before, in 1982, becoming dean of the Mackay School of Mines at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he secured millions of dollars for capital construction, teaching and research.
In 1987, he was appointed president and CEO of the Desert Research Institute, where he was able to fund a variety of new projects, including the construction of two science centers. He returned to Mackay in 1998 as the Arthur Brant Endowed Chair for Geophysics, and in 2003, was again asked to serve as acting dean of the school. He was later named director of the newly restructured Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, where he remained until returning to geophysics in 2009.
During his career Jim served on a variety of boards and companies in both higher education and the space industry, and maintained active memberships with numerous professional organizations. He received the Bronze Star for bravery and meritorious services as a geologist for the U.S. Army Engineer Command in Vietnam, and NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal. He is survived by his wife, Colleen; son Dan; daughter Debra; and three grandchildren.