DATE:  April 29, 2008
CONTACT: Marshall Collins 361.825.2427; Trent Hill 361.825.6005
Dr. Larry D. McKinney Named Executive Director of Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas –Dr. Larry D. McKinney, director of Coastal Fisheries and senior director of Aquatic Resources for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), has been named executive director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

University President Flavius Killebrew made the announcement today following an exhaustive international search. McKinney, who earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 1976, is a recognized authority on the habitats of amphipod crustaceans in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. He will assume his new duties in July.

“Dr. McKinney’s experience in the ocean sciences and his record of leading successful international research initiatives will serve the University well as the Harte Research Institute grows in national and international stature,” said Killebrew. “His credentials and talents will increase the University’s standing within the research community and play a vital role in the continued development of A&M-Corpus Christi as a major research institution.”

In his position at TPWD, McKinney was responsible for a broad range of natural resource and environmental issues including the assessment and securing of freshwater inflows to estuaries and in-stream flows for rivers and reservoirs; wetland conservation and restoration; endangered species conservation; and, other issues related to the ecological health of Texas aquatic ecosystems. He also served as the Texas representative on the Gulf of Mexico Regional Marine Research Board and the western panel of the Aquatic Species Taskforce.

“I look forward to working with the distinguished scientists and staff and addressing the challenges we face in assuring the health of the Gulf of Mexico,” said McKinney. “The HRI has rapidly become a scientific leader in the region and it is my goal to build on that success. If we are to address complex issues such as climate change we’ll need policies well-grounded in science and the HRI will be a leader in meeting such challenges.”

In 1976, McKinney was a Smithsonian Fellow and from 1977 to 1980 he was a research associate and instructor at Texas A&M University-Galveston. Prior to joining TPWD, McKinney was director of the Texas Environmental Engineering Field Laboratory in Galveston where he worked on water issues including the diversion of the Mississippi River. During his career he has had articles published in more than 80 scientific and technical publications.

The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies is an endowed and developing research institute that supports and advances the long-term sustainable use and conservation of the Gulf of Mexico through a tri-national approach between the United States, Mexico and Cuba. The Institution was created in 2000 by a $46 million endowment from Edward H. Harte, philanthropist and former publisher of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

Speaking for the Harte family, Edward Harte said that Larry McKinney brings to the Harte Research Institute many years of developing and implementing policies and practices which support the quality of our natural resources. McKinney’s experiences will be instrumental in assessing issues that impact the Gulf of Mexico and providing solutions for supporting long-term benefits toward the well-being of these waters and the countries that are dependent upon the conservation of the ecosystem.

“The work of the Harte Research Institute shapes the future health and sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico,” Harte said. “We look to Larry McKinney to bring the scientific community and neighboring nations together as the institute continues its ongoing work in supporting the economies of the North American region.”

Robert Furgason, who served as executive director of the Harte Research Institute from 2004 through 2007, retired in March.