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Plant & Soil Science Chairman Zartman to retire after 40 years at Texas Tech

Plant & Soil Science Chairman Zartman to retire after 40 years at Texas Tech

After more than four decades of teaching, research and eventual administration of Texas Tech’s Department of Plant and Soil Science, Richard Zartman has announced that he will retire from his post as chairman and Leidigh Professor of Soil Physics. His last day will be Aug. 31.

“Rick Zartman has done a tremendous job overseeing both the department’s academics and research,” said Michael Galyean, dean of Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. “He combines the highest level of professionalism and expertise, and we will miss him.”

In the past, Zartman has focused his research efforts on evaluating the infiltration and distribution of water in playa lake ecosystems. In addition, his research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to determine the fate of the bioterrorist agent ricin in the natural and human-modified environments. His classroom duties have included teaching courses in urban soils, soil physical properties and geostatistics.

Zartman has served as chairman of the department from 2011-2014. He joined Tech’s faculty in 1974 as an assistant professor of soil physics and was named a full professor in 1991. He was named associate chair in 1998 and served as interim chairman of the department during the fall of 2000. Awards for Zartman include CASNR’s Outstanding Researcher Award (2003, 2006) and Texas Tech President’s Excellence in Teaching Award (2001). He was named a member of the university’s Teaching Academy in 2003.

Zartman earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from The Ohio State University, and his doctorate in soil physics with a minor in math is from the University of Kentucky. He is a member of the American Society of Agronomy, International Soil Science Society, and Soil and Water Conservation Society of America.

“As a graduate of The Ohio State University, my blood initially ran scarlet and grey,” Zartman sad. “Now, after 40 years at Texas Tech, my blood runs red and black.”

As Zartman considered the changes in the Tech department over the decades, technological advancements stand out. “There were no computers when I started,” he said. “The secretaries all had typewriters. Faculty would submit hand written, rough drafts to the secretaries who would give back a typed rough draft. We would then revise and resubmit several more times. Now we all have computers.”

Additionally, Zartman said when he was hired; the academic unit was called the ‘Department of Agronomy and Production Horticulture.’ Since that time the department has incorporated ornamental horticulture, entomology and the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute into the department. Meantime, the department’s graduate program has significantly increased. Today, approximately 45 percent of its students are graduate students.

Written by Norman Martin

CONTACT: Michael Galyean, Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or



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