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May 2000

Here's to Bob:
A toast to the
departing director

More than 200 of Bob Serafin's colleagues stopped by the Mesa Lab cafeteria on Thursday afternoon, 27 April, to wish the departing NCAR director well. It was the last week of Bob's 11-year tenure, the longest in NCAR history. Bob is moving to an office with ESIG in FL1 and continuing full-time work until his official retirement next February, then shifting to part time. For more on Bob's plans, see the April 2000 issue of Staff Notes Monthly.

Among the many testimonials offered in mid-party:

  • UCAR president Rick Anthes called Bob "the most truthful, honest person I know and also the fairest." In dealing with tough problems, he found Bob "extremely insightful--quick to get to the crux of arguments." He gave Bob kudos for orchestrating such coups as acquiring the NSF/NCAR C-130 aircraft in 1993 without affecting NCAR's core funding.

  • UCAR's Steve Dickson recalled a marathon weekend he and Dave Waltman spent working on a complex fiscal plan during his days as NCAR budget director under Bob. When they presented the results of their grueling work to the boss that Monday morning, "Bob tapped on his calculator a few times and said, 'That's about right.' "

  • John McCarthy, the founding director of RAP: "What can I say about my mentor of 21 years? A lot." John cited Bob's "great patience" and his ability to give people space to carry out projects as they saw fit, which he called "a great sign of leadership." He also noted the "intellectual glue" that Bob provided in the early 1980s in the effort to study wind shear and its threat to aviation, work that led to the creation of RAP.

  • SCD director Al Kellie, who arrived two years ago from the Canadian Meteorological Centre, joked that "Bob went fishing in Canada and came home with me." He also revealed that Bob knows exactly how to communicate with entrepreneurs: "He can talk about the weather, he can talk about airplanes, and he can talk about golf." Rachelle Daily joined Al to present Bob with a plaque-mounted module from the one-of-a-kind CRAY-3 housed at NCAR in the mid-1990s.

  • CGD director Maurice Blackmon said he appreciated Bob's support during the division's transition to the Climate System Model: "He can see into people. He can understand their motivations."

  • UCAR distinguished scientist Joach Kuettner commented on his amazement that Bob always seemed to visit field programs only on days when things were running smoothly and the field managers were in consensus. He had no explanation other than "Bob is an exceptional man."

Bob Serafin during a pensive party moment.
(Photos by Lynda Lester.)

Betsy Serafin recalled the morning when her husband, in true directorial fashion, asked her how thoroughly she'd planned her day and what goals she'd set for it.

Bob himself closed the remarks with anecdotes from his early days at ATD, where they once tested a vertically pointing radar by firing pellets from a BB gun to serve as reflectors. As for another early idea, using hay bales to reduce clutter in the radar image from side lobes, "I predicted it wouldn't work, and it didn't," he laughed. Among the satisfactions Bob noted from his tenure as director: community interaction and the diversity of NCAR's funding are both at all-time highs. --Bob Henson

Left: CGD's Akira Kasahara leafs through the memory book created for Bob.

Above: Rit Carbone (left, now of MMM) and Jim Wilson (ATD) roasted their colleague with a top-10 list of "cheapshots about Bob."

With the help of rice paper and food coloring, these cakes provided a send-off for Bob plus a glimpse of two of ATD's biggest accomplishments: the Electra Doppler Radar (left) and the S-Pol multiparameter radar (right).

In this issue...

Note: The rest of this issue will be posted in early May 2000.

Other issues of Staff Notes Monthly


Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu