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Larry Lattman

Larry Lattman

Dr. Larry Lattman received his Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from City College of New York in 1948 and his masters and doctorate in Geology at the University of Cincinnati in 1951 and 1953. He began his professional career as an instructor in geology at the University of Cincinnati in 1952.  He spent the next year at the University of Michigan.  From 1953 to 1957, Dr. Lattman was a photo geologist for the Gulf Oil Corporation in Pittsburgh and New York. At Penn State from 1957 to 1970, he moved through the ranks of assistant, associate, and full professor of Geology. In 1970, Dr. Lattman returned to the University of Cincinnati as head of the Geology department. From 1975 to 1983, he served as Dean of two separate colleges at the University of Utah: the College of Mines and Minerals and the College of Engineering. In 1983, Dr. Lattman became President of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, where he remained until his retirement in 1995. He has published 45 technical reports and articles and co-wrote two books, Aerial Photographs in the Field of Geology and Energy Law.

Larry was involved in the Penn State Field Camp only once, as far as we can tell, in 1965.  But he was a legendary figure at Penn State, in part for his science: he and Dick Parizek pioneered the technique of locating muncipal well fields at intersections of major fracture zones.  He would find such fractures from aerial photos and from his own plane (photo to right).Larry Lattman Plane 

Larry also taught physical geology (Geosc 20, or "Rocks for Jocks") to > 37,000 students at Penn State during a period of about 12 years in the 1960s and early 1970s. The popularity of physical geology was in part due to Lattman’s brilliant classroom style and in part due to a university requirement that all students take a science class.  It is estimated that one-quarter of all Penn State students during that time took Geosc 20 during their college careers.

     Joe Head (1969 field camp) sent along the photos below.  He writes "Here are a couple old photos from my senior year. I believe these were taken by fellow geology major Ken Walters, who was the inspiration for the practical joke. Dr. Laurence 'Larry' Lattman was the most popular lecturer at Penn State when I was an undergraduate. He was popular because of the nonscience major/no laboratory geosciences course that he taught. The last quarter he taught at Penn State he had 1,700 students in his class. They had to break it up into two sections, and had to give him Schwab Auditorium as a lecture location. He always introduced each course with a statement that there were three no's for the course: no textbook, no reading of the Daily Collegian in class, and no one from the state of New Jersey sitting in the first three rows. He would tell the class that he belonged to "The New Jersey Haters Society" and that their motto was: "And the sea retreated in disgust," referring to that time in geologic history when the swamps of New Jersey were created by the change in sea level.

     The day of Dr. Lattman's very last lecture in that course, he began to speak, only to be interrupted by the sound of a winch lowering one of the backdrop rods to display a banner which read, "Did the sea retreat in disgust?" He stopped briefly, then went back to lecturing without really commenting on the banner. Then we heard the winch again bringing down a second banner which read, "No, the land rose in triumph." During my years at Penn State, the Geology Department was noted for creative, nondestructive practical jokes. I think Ken Walter's joke on Dr. Lattman had to have topped them all."

Larry Lattman's last lecture in Geosc 20

The first banner descends during Larry Lattman's final lecture in Geosc 20, 1970

 

Larry Lattman's last lecture in Geosc 20

The second banner descends during Larry Lattman's final lecture in Geosc 20, 1970