Robert W. Knecht, professor and co-director of the Center for the Study of Marine Policy at the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies, has won the 1999 Julius A. Stratton Award for Leadership. The national award is bestowed biennially to the person or group who has made the greatest difference in leading the cause for the coast and who can best be labeled as the "Champion of the Coast." The announcement was made at Coastal Zone 99, the nation's largest conference devoted to coastal issues, on July 28 in San Diego.
The Stratton award is named for the eminent scientist and educator who served for seven years as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and later chaired the blue-ribbon national Commission on Marine Science, Engineering and Resources. In 1969, this commission, more commonly referred to as the "Stratton Commission," produced the landmark report Our Nation and the Sea, which became the foundation for the national Coastal Zone Management Act and Program.
Previous winners of the award include Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission in 1995, and Sylvia Earle, internationally known ocean advocate and explorer, in 1997.
Knecht has a distinguished record of leadership in coastal and ocean management. In 1972, he was appointed the first director of the nation's Coastal Zone Management Program and led its implementation for nine years. After serving on the U.S. Law of the Sea delegation, he directed several other national ocean initiatives, including programs for the licensing of deep-sea mining and ocean thermal energy conversion systems.
Since 1981, Knecht has held academic posts at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Delaware. In 1989, he joined the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies, where he is co-director of the Center for the Study of Marine Policy. Established in 1973 as the first of its kind at a U.S. university, the center conducts research on a broad range of coastal issues, hosts visiting scholars, organizes conferences, develops publications, and provides policy advice to state, national, and international agencies.
Knecht has authored numerous articles on coastal zone management, ocean policy, international governance regimes, and related topics. Together with Biliana Cicin-Sain, co-director of the Center for the Study of Marine Policy, he recently completed the books Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management: Concepts and Practices (1998) and The Future of U. S. Ocean Policy: Choices for the New Century (1999).
Additionally, he is associate editor of the international journal Ocean and Coastal Management and vice-president of the International Coastal and Ocean Organization.
During his government service, Knecht was twice awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce's Gold Medal, for his satellite experiment to explore the upper side of the ionosphere, and for his early leadership of the Coastal Zone Management Program. Active in civic affairs, he served as mayor of Boulder, Colorado, from 1965 to 1971.