William “Bill” Harris Taubeneck was born August 27, 1923 in Marshall, Illinois. Bill briefly enrolled at Michigan State in 1941, but then joined the U.S. Army to serve in World War II. After leaving the Army, he spent a winter as a timber marker in Lewiston, Idaho, and the following summer as a foreman for the U.S. Forest Service in Northfork, California. Bill attended Oregon State University and earned both a Bachelor of Science degree, in 1949, and a Master’s degree in geology with a minor in mining engineering in 1950. While in school Bill spent two summers as a camp superintendent in the Sierra National Forest in Northfork, California. Bill then enrolled in the doctoral program at Columbia University and in 1955 he earned his Ph.D. During the period of his doctoral studies he conducted field studies in northeastern Oregon and served as an Instructor in Geology at Oregon State University for four years before joining the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Geology in 1955.
From 1953-57 Bill also worked at Oregon State as a consultant in engineering geology and ore deposits. He was noted for his passion for Beaver sports and especially his dedication to field geology. He made it a priority to recruit excellent graduate students to the geology program and would often do so by reciting a long (19 stanza) poem, including the stanza:
Perhaps you can already bake a cake
but for general education’s sake
you should know about Crater Lake
GEOLOGY OF OREGON you should take
Bill specialized in igneous petrology (the study of rocks formed from magma) and published many articles about his work. He did extensive geological mapping in the Wallowa Mountains and northeastern Oregon, and in 1963 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to study petrogenesis (dealing with the origin) of granitic rocks at Oxford University for a year. In 1959, Bill became an Associate Professor at OSU, and then in 1965 he became a Professor until he retired in 1983. Upon his retirement he received the Loyd Carter award for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching in Science.
Bill was Graduate Advisor and Chair of the Geology Department Graduate Committee for more than 10 years, a charter member of Circum-Pacific Plutonism Project (1972-82), a member of American Expedition to Skaergaard, East Greenland (1974), and a Geologist for the United States Geological Survey (1978-82).
The William H. Taubeneck Fund was established in 2007 to support the Geology Program in recruiting highly qualified graduate students who are seeking a doctorate degree, and retaining these students while they are teaching assistants in the Department of Geosciences.