Professor Who ‘set the Standard for Teaching and Research’ Receives Colorado State University Alumni Award

Colorado State University is honoring an alumnus and 30-year professor whose work influenced hundreds of engineering students and led to the development of policies for protecting groundwater resources throughout the United States and Canada.

Professor Emeritus David McWhorter will receive the Honor Alumnus Award from the College of Engineering at the university’s Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony April 26.

Throughout his nearly 30-year career at Colorado State, McWhorter advised more than 50 master’s and doctoral students, many of whom are now faculty members at major research universities or who hold leadership positions in government agencies and engineering firms.

"For almost 30 years, Dr. McWhorter set the standard for teaching and research in the College of Engineering," said Neal Gallagher, dean of the college. "The success of his graduates is due in large measure to Dr. McWhorter’s knack for helping students become independent, critical thinkers. He represents a model for achievement, integrity and professionalism that all faculty should aspire to achieve."

McWhorter served as the principal or co-investigator on a variety of research projects that received more than $8 million in funding and was a leader in serving the university through teaching, administrative duties and committee activities. His primary research involved the mechanics of single- and multi-phase fluid flow in porous media, leading to applications in agricultural drainage, groundwater hydrology, management of mine and mill tailings and contaminant transport in unsaturated soils and groundwater.

After completing his master’s degree in civil engineering at Colorado State in 1966 and his doctoral in agricultural engineering from the university in 1971, McWhorter joined the engineering department as an assistant professor. Due to his outstanding performance, McWhorter was rapidly promoted to associate professor in 1975 and full professor in 1979. In 1999, he retired from full-time teaching and research and became professor emeritus, increasing his consulting activities with industrial firms and government agencies.

McWhorter is a world-renowned expert in contaminant transport for soil and groundwater and holds a patent on disposal of spent oil shale and other volatile materials. His research work and publications have led to the development of policies and procedures for protecting vital groundwater resources throughout the United States and Canada.

Among his many awards are the Oliver Pennock Distinguished Service Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Halliburton Education Foundation Award of Excellence and the Burlington-Northern Foundation Award for Outstanding Performance in Graduate Education. He served as a consultant to dozens of industries and organizations, was editor or associate editor for a half-dozen scientific journals and published nearly 20 papers and reports.