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Harry “Hap” McSween, a UT professor who is world-renowned for his research of meteorites and Mars, has been named the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Professor of the Year.

McSween is a Chancellor’s Professor and distinguished professor of earth and planetary sciences.

The SEC Professor of the Year Award honors one SEC faculty member from the fourteen conference universities whose record in research, scholarship, and service places him or her among the elite in higher education.

“We are honored that Hap won this top award in our conference,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “It is well deserved. He is a stellar representative of our university and what it means to be an extraordinary scientist, teacher, and researcher.”

McSween first won the university’s SEC Faculty Achievement Award, making him a finalist for the top award. He will be honored at the SEC Spring Banquet in Destin, Florida, in May and will receive a $20,000 honorarium.

“Hap is beloved as a truly wonderful human being whose interactions with others are characterized by kindness and generosity,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “He is the epitome of a servant leader and we are indebted to him for responding to calls for his leadership and service at critical times in his department, the college, and the university. He is passionately committed to the success of this institution. We are a better community because Hap McSween is among us.”


McSween is the world’s leading expert on the composition of Mars. He is co-investigator for NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft mission, the Mars Exploration Rovers and the Dawn spacecraft mission. He is a recipient of the National Academy of Sciences’ J. Lawrence Smith Medal for his pioneering studies of the parent planets of meteorites and his work on the geological history of Mars, and he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 1999, McSween led a team of researchers that discovered geologic evidence on a meteorite that water existed deep in Mars’ crust. He also has an asteroid named for him by the International Astronomical Union, 5223 McSween.

A UT faculty member for thirty-five years, McSween has been named the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences best teacher six times. UT awarded him the Alexander Prize, which recognizes excellence in teaching and research, and the College of Arts and Sciences College Marshal, the highest college honor bestowed upon a faculty member.

The SEC Professor of the Year is selected by the SEC provosts. The award is part of several academic initiatives the Southeastern Conference has undertaken to encourage academic leadership and collaboration within the SEC.

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460,

Harry McSween (865-974-9805,