GSA Medals & Awards

GSA Distinguished Service Award

Peter W. Lipman
Peter W. Lipman
Emeritus Scientist
U.S. Geological Survey

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Presented to Peter W. Lipman

 Citation by John E. Costa

Peter Lipman is well-known to many of us for his magnificent scientific accomplishments in the field of volcano geology including field mapping, studies of ancient and active volcanoes, documentation of gigantic submarine landslides, and volcano hazards. You can most likely reach him on the slopes of Mauna Loa or in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. Today, Peter is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Geological Society of America for his service as Councilor, and member of the Executive Committee (2000-2003), Budget Committee, Finance Committee, and Audit Committee from 2000-present. This was a crucial time for GSA characterized by financial difficulty as the stock market was in serious decline and GSA was spending $3M more per year than it was taking in as revenue. Because of his personal philanthropy, Peter had extensive experience in finance and budgets. He was the leader of a broad and committed group of GSA elected officials who, with the help of a new Executive Director and Controller, reversed the fiscal situation of GSA, with ideas, examples, questions, and policy. His nomination comes from this group of GSA leaders with whom he worked. Starting next year, GSA's operational budget (excluding the research grants) will be self-supporting and no longer require withdrawals from the endowment. I cannot overstate the influence of Peter Lipman in the discussions and decisions that led to this remarkable recovery. He helped secure a strong and bright future for GSA, and for his wisdom and council, today receives the Distinguished Service Award.

 top 2004 GSA Distinguished Service Award - Response by Peter W. Lipman

This award really should be shared by a large group of the elected officers and managerial staff of GSA. Starting in 2000, newly in-place leaders of the Society formulated a rigorous multi-year approach to difficult operational and financial realities that had long been avoided. By accident of timing as a just-elected member of the GSA Council, I necessarily became heavily involved in this effort to deal with an unsustainable situation — along with my citationist among others. Impending disaster does strongly focus the mind, even if at times causing anguish about appearance of a "Chicken Little" approach. Although involving difficult decisions and painful actions, the resulting efforts at GSA in growing income while reducing expenditures, without adversely affecting the Society's important roles in promoting the earth sciences, have been a uniquely gratifying experience for this research-oriented scientist. Volunteer service to the broader community, including the professional societies, adds rewarding dimensions to one's personal life, including new friendships, exposure to novel problems, and personal growth. Above all, feeling that one can make a difference is its own incentive. Thank you for this honor.