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Edward L. Thackston

Edward L. Thackston, a native of Lebanon, Tenn., received his bachelor of engineering degree in civil engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1961, and earned the Founder’s Medal for top honors. Thackston worked for Lebanon as city engineer and for the city of Nashville as a design engineer. He later received a master of science degree from the University of Illinois in 1963 and a doctoral degree from Vanderbilt in environmental and water resources engineering in 1966.

Thackston taught water and waste treatment, water supply, wastewater collection, water quality management, and environmental law at Vanderbilt from 1965 to 2000, except for 1972–1973 when he was on leave to serve as staff assistant for environmental affairs to Tennessee Gov. Winfield Dunn. In 1974 he was named Conservationist of the Year by the Tennessee Conservation League—the Tennessee affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation—for his work in promoting good environmental policy within the Tennessee state government.

From 1980 through 1999, Thackston was chairman of the department of civil and environmental engineering at Vanderbilt, during which time the faculty expanded from 10 to 15. He directed almost $1.5 million in sponsored research activity and has been the author or co-author of more than 120 technical publications. Thackston retired from Vanderbilt in 2000, was active in several research projects until 2005, and remains active in private consulting.

Thackston was active in the Tennessee Conservation League and was on the board of directors from 1974 through 2003. He won the League’s Career Achievement Award in 1983 and the Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award from the state of Tennessee in 1997. Thackston also served on the Tennessee Water Quality Control Board and as chairman of the Metro Nashville Wastewater Hearing Authority.

He was named Engineer of the Year in 2001 by the Nashville chapter of the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers. Also in 2001, he received the Outstanding Paper Award from the Association of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. In 2004, the Kentucky-Tennessee Water Environment Association presented him its Leary Jones Award and named him to its Hall of Fame.

In 1990 Thackston was named a Distinguished Graduate by Lebanon High School. In 1995, he was elected to the board of trust of Cumberland University and in 2007 he was elected chairman of the board.

Thackston is married to the former Betty Tucker of Shelbyville. They have two daughters and six grandchildren.