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Rule's Retirement Will Not End His Work as a Scientist

Joseph H. Rule, the biogeochemist and longtime associate dean of the Old Dominion University College of Sciences-and who twice served as interim dean-will retire in May. But he said that his work as a scientist will not end anytime soon.

He's a soils expert whose work meshes neatly with the emphasis around the globe today on environmental protection.

When floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina left smelly sludge spread over much of New Orleans in 2005, Rule was one of the experts called upon to advise property owners about potential soil contamination.

He also was tapped as an expert to evaluate trace metals on beaches and in sediments in the Straits of Magellan, Chile, after a major crude oil spill there. Another trip took him to Poland to investigate trace metal contamination of soils, and still others took him to Vienna, Paris and Taipei to present his soils research at international conferences.

Rule said he and his wife, Anna, have short-term plans to entertain family visitors and to travel, both in the states and abroad. But not long after retirement he will launch into a collaboration with a Polish colleague on two geochemistry books, one a revision of an existing book and one a new book.

Nevertheless, he said, when he looks back over his 32 years at ODU, it's his work as an administrator and teacher that he remembers most fondly. He became chair of the Geological Sciences Department in 1994 and associate dean of the College of Sciences a year later. He was interim dean in 2003 and again in 2006-07. In the classroom, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses, and he served as a member of more than 30 master's and Ph.D. degree committees.

Rule served in the Faculty Senate and on several college and university committees related to technology and graduate matters. He was a member of the Graduate Administrators Council, as well.

He was the guiding force behind formal orientation programs that were developed for new graduate students and new faculty. Both of the orientations began for members of the College of Science, but expanded over the years to cover students and faculty from other ODU colleges. "The new graduate student orientation for fall 2007 was the most successful of all, including students from all six colleges," he said.

"I have enjoyed my time at Old Dominion, especially working with my friends and colleagues," Rule added. "The last 32 years have been an interesting and dynamic time for the university, as it grew from an institution with an emphasis on teaching to a research university. I feel a sense of pride, especially in the development and maturation of the College of Sciences, and hope that I have been able to contribute to this development."

The public will remember Rule for his administration of the College of Science's Distinguished Visiting Lecture Series, and for his work since 2001 with Virginia Tech's Department of Horticulture at the Virginia Beach Extension Station.

Rule said he hopes the future holds expanded interdisciplinary programs between the College of Sciences and the College of Health Sciences, especially one in environmental health.

This article was posted on: April 30, 2008

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