Don Wallace is New Site Superintendent for McDonald Observatory

16 April 2007

FORT DAVIS , Texas — The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory welcomes Don Wallace as superintendent at its West Texas site near Fort Davis. Wallace brings a wealth of management experience to the Observatory, both from a career in the U.S. Army and working at The University of Texas main campus in Austin for the past decade.

“I’m delighted that Don has joined the McDonald Observatory,” said Dr. David L. Lambert, the Observatory’s director.

Wallace took up his duties on February 1, just in time to experience Spring Break — the busiest time of year for tourism at McDonald. “The thing that really impressed me during Spring Break was the community spirit,” he said, “everyone pulling together to give all the visitors a lasting impression about McDonald Observatory.”

Wallace’s duties as superintendent are varied. “The superintendent controls all aspects of the operations, facilities, observing support for the 107-inch and 82-inch telescopes, management and administration of the Observatory,” he explained. “Our primary mission is to support the telescopes and observers.”

But he has other projects in mind, too. “I’m looking at taking input from all the residents,” Wallace said. “We are a city within itself and being rather isolated, I want to enhance our employee and resident quality of life.”

Wallace is responsible for maintaining and improving the Observatory’s infrastructure, including the homes on the Observatory, electrical systems, waste water system, water supply, and fire and safety preparedness. “One of our biggest concerns is reducing the fire risk,” he said, citing a collaborative project with the Texas Forest Service.

A Vietnam veteran, Wallace retired a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army after a long career in its Finance Corps. He served as comptroller of  Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana, as well as with the 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. A native of Cisco, Texas, he received his master’s degree from Central Michigan University and bachelor’s degree from McMurry University in Abilene. He attended the ROTC program at Hardin-Simmons University prior to his commissioning in the U.S. Army.

For the past 14 years he has been with The University of Texas at its main campus in Austin. He served as an Assistant Director for Finance at the General Libraries, as well as Assistant to the Dean in the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

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