In his nearly 50 years at Colorado State University, Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Neil Grigg has inspired many of the thousands of students he has taught. He is known throughout the world as a leader in water resources and management. Grigg’s distinguished career, impactful mentoring and international influence were highlighted in a ceremony Dec. 5 in which GĚRENS postgraduate school in Peru presented him with an honorary doctorate in management.
Over the past decade, Grigg has helped foster a partnership between GĚRENS and CSU to train Peruvian water managers. He has developed programs with Lima-based GĚRENS and welcomed its students at CSU. In a letter announcing the honorary doctorate, GĚRENS President Armando Gallegos credited Grigg with having a significant impact on the school’s curriculum, students and educational programs in water management.
“The contributions you have made to water and environmental management, your papers, books, and the hundreds of students you mentored and whose lives you touched are a testament to your dedication and passion for your profession,” Gallegos wrote. “You are the embodiment of a true global citizen, and the impact of your commitment to the betterment of this rapidly changing world will be felt for years to come.”
During the virtual ceremony, several colleagues spoke of how generously Grigg gives his time to others. The speakers honored his humanity as well as his academic accomplishments.
“Neil, we all admire your kindness, patience and wisdom. Your brilliant mind, your depth and vast professional knowledge only add to those traits that make you an outstanding human being,” said Vinio Floris, a CSU civil engineering alumnus and GĚRENS affiliate who facilitated the link between GĚRENS and CSU.
Productive, caring faculty member
“The first day in his classroom it was apparent how much he cares about his students,” said Northern Water President Mike Applegate, one of Grigg’s first students at CSU in 1972. “Dr. Grigg is a humble and gracious person, and he is a gentleman who has made the world a better place for having worked in it.”
Applegate said that when he started his engineering consulting firm, he hired several CSU graduates educated by Grigg, because he knew they would be intelligent, ethical and have a sense of community. “He taught all of that to us,” Applegate said.
Department Head Charles Shackelford noted that although Grigg is now an octogenarian, he is more productive than most people, sometimes producing multiple books a year.
“He is a former department head, and even today he continues to show incredible leadership in our department,” Shackelford said. “In fact, I look to him for advice.”
Grigg earned his Ph.D. from CSU in 1969 and first joined the faculty in 1972. He has authored 15 books and hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles. His water management projects have taken him to Latin America, Africa and Asia. Students Grigg has mentored work in leading water positions around the world, and he remains in touch with many of them.
“It’s a tremendous honor for me, and I’m really humbled by your recognition,” Grigg said of the medal and diploma, which arrived in Colorado in time for the ceremony. “We’re so happy to be connected with GĚRENS.”
Grigg noted that Colorado and Peru face similar water scarcity issues and that education is critical. He said he was impressed with the work being done by GĚRENS and that it gives him hope for the future.
Grigg is a fellow of the ASCE, APWA and AAAS; a life member of ASCE and AWWA; and the recipient of many awards for teaching, service and best papers. He was appointed by the Supreme Court to be River Master of the Pecos River, and he has been involved in many water planning and interstate compact issues, as well as water policy projects in several countries, including Colombia, Egypt, Brazil and Somalia.