After 35 years of service at UNO, Dr. Robert Cashner is retiring to the higher elevations of North Carolina. Bob joined what was then LSUNO in 1973 as a temporary, part-time instructor of biological sciences. In 1978, he became a tenure track assistant professor and quickly moved through the academic ranks to full Professor status in 1987. In 1993, Bob fell victim to the “administration virus” and accepted the Chair position in the Department of Biological Sciences, where he provided outstanding leadership. Three years later, he was named Dean of the Graduate School. In 2001, Bob was asked to assume the role of Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs in addition to his duties as Dean of the Graduate School. Bob has maintained a broad perspective in this job supporting research and scholarship across the university. Extramural funding increased significantly under his guidance, and he and his staff have worked diligently to better serve the university community. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bob personally transported graduate students to the University of Houston and the University of Oklahoma where he had found support for them to continue their studies. Working from Baton Rouge, the Jefferson Center, and staff members’ homes, he also supported the research and scholarly work of faculty who were scattered nationwide. All this time his house was under 10 feet of water.
Bob received his undergraduate degree in biology at Lyon College, an M.S. from the University of Arkansas, and a Ph.D. from Tulane University. He is extremely well-read and his knowledge of sports history and films is amazing. Even though he has a prodigious knowledge of organismic and evolutionary biology, he discovered during his first year of graduate study that he really liked fish, not only as food, but also to study. Thus began his career as an ichthyologist – a person who studies fish – and today he is considered an expert on freshwater fishes of the southeastern United States and Australia. Bob has published over 60 papers on fish, given numerous professional presentations, and mentored 25 graduate students. In 1993, he was elected as a Research Professor by the UNO Research Council. He is past president and a permanent member of the Board of Governors of the American Society of Ichthyology and Herpetology. He was honored as the George M. Sutton speaker at the University of Oklahoma and was invited to deliver the Distinguished Scientist Seminar at Southern Mississippi University. Bob has also been the force behind a highly successful Darwin Day seminar at UNO.
Bob is an outstanding teacher and has had a positive influence on many students who lavish praise on his teaching abilities and mentoring skills. In 1976, he was selected as a recipient of the UNO International Alumni Teaching Award, and in 1993 he was given Research Professor status.
Bob is a gifted speaker, and in addition to previously mentioned talks, he was asked to deliver the Graduate School Commencement address at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, and to speak at the Spring 2007 College of Sciences Commencement.
The University of New Orleans has been fortunate to have such a talented educator, scientist, administrator, ambassador, and all around good person. We will miss his great sense of humor and hope that his love of UNO and New Orleans will bring him back often to visit.
Authored by Joe King on February 18, 2008