Emeritus Professor William Cotton authors memoir

Those familiar with Professor Emeritus William Cotton’s stories encouraged him to write a memoir, so eventually he did.

Recently completed after two years in the making, Cotton’s memoir, “The Setting Sun: A Life’s Adventure,” is available on his website. “Free to anyone up to the challenge of reading it,” Cotton said.

William Cotton and Sue van den Heever
Professor Cotton cutting the tie of former student Sue van de Heever, who is now a faculty member in Atmospheric Science, after a successful Ph.D. defense – part of a tradition that he adapted from the shirttail-cutting ceremony following a pilot’s first solo flight.

“It is a combination of highlights of my professional life and the crazier things in my life,” he said.

Each of the later chapters begins with Cotton’s science and professional work and moves on to what he calls the “fun stuff.” In addition to a successful career in atmospheric science research and teaching at Colorado State University, Cotton pursued many extra-curricular interests over the years, including sailing, flying planes and even dog sled racing. However, he considers advising students to be the most significant achievement of his career.

“My most rewarding accomplishment has been the supervision and mentoring of 44 Ph.D. students,” he acknowledges in the memoir.

In fact, he prefaces the tome with this statement:

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of my students.”

Cotton joined CSU’s atmospheric science faculty in 1974. The college and university recognized him with numerous honors over the years, including the Engineering Dean’s Council Award for excellence in atmospheric research, the Abell Faculty Research Graduate Program Support Award, the Research Foundation Researcher of the Year Award, and the Jack Cermak Distinguished Advisor Award. His Ph.D. alma mater, Penn State University, also gave him the Charles L. Hosler Alumni Scholar Award.

Cotton is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA). He has published more than 159 papers in peer-reviewed journals and authored eight book chapters, one book, and his memoir, and co-authored two additional books.