Founding Faculty Member Retires after 50 Years

Dr. John Hoffman received a watch during his retirement ceremony last month.

Dr. John Hoffman, a professor of physics who was one of the founding faculty members at UT Dallas, retired March 31 after 50 years of teaching, research and service.

Hoffman has been building scientific instruments for satellites, planetary missions and other space probes since he joined the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest in 1966. The center became UT Dallas in 1969. Hoffman’s instruments explored Halley’s comet and accompanied three Apollo missions to the moon. They were on board the Pioneer mission to Venus and the landmark Phoenix mission to Mars in 2008, providing key data to prove the existence of water on the Red Planet.

In addition to teaching, he also served as head of the Department of Physics, associate dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and associate dean for undergraduate education.

“Despite all of John’s scientific success, when asked which of his accomplishments made him most proud, he cited his work with students and in administration,” Dr. Inga Musselman, interim provost, said at Hoffman’s recent retirement celebration. 

UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson (left) and Dr. John Hoffman.

“It is easy to look around campus today and be amazed by the dynamism of our institution and the remarkable speed of progress. But these phenomena have been features of our university from its very inception. … One thing that has not changed over John’s half-century at UT Dallas is the importance of his scientific instruments in advancing our understanding of the very matter of our cosmic neighborhood.”