Moreland Herrin, 1922–2015

Moreland Herrin, professor emeritus in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, passed away peacefully on July 6 in Urbana, Illinois. He was born in Morris, Oklahoma.

Herrin photo

Moreland Herrin

Herrin received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State University. Later, he received a Ph.D. from Purdue University.

During World War II, he was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps’ 8th Air Force in England and was a member of the occupational forces in Germany. He then served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and retired as a lieutenant colonel.

Herrin was a registered professional civil engineer and, after working as a consultant and researcher, he taught civil engineering, first at Oklahoma State, and then for more than 30 years in the University of Illinois’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He specialized in highway and airport design and in asphalt paving mixtures. During his career, he initiated the Illinois Bituminous Paving Conference—now in its 56th year and currently coordinated by ICT director Imad Al-Qadi. Herrin also served as president of the International Association of Asphalt Pavement Technologists in 1978, and he was recognized as the Illinois Asphalt Paving Association’s Man of the Year in 1985.


Moreland Herrin

Longtime colleague Barry Dempsey says, “Professor Moreland Herrin was the leader of our transportation group [at Illinois] and was probably the kindest person I have ever known. He always greeted you with a smile and was willing to exchange views and discuss issues in a collegial manner. Professor Herrin continued to participate in our transportation conferences and social activities during this retirement years. He also initiated a number of transportation courses that continue to be taught.”

Dempsey, recalling the classic movie Goodbye, Mr. Chips—about a beloved schoolteacher at a boys school in England—says, “Professor Herrin was our own Mr. Chips, and he will be missed.”

Al-Qadi, another longtime colleague of Herrin, says, “I always called him ‘The Gentleman.’ He was an excellent mentor to all our faculty, sharing with them his experience, wisdom, leadership, and vision.” Al-Qadi recalls that Herrin took a personal interest in all of his students. “He took a group photo of every class he taught over the decades and kept every single one of them.”

Herrin and his family also established a scholarship for full-time, nontraditional students in civil engineering.

Another longtime colleague, Marshall Thompson, says that Herrin was an early contributor to pavement engineering. “Professor Herrin was the first U of I civil engineering professor who focused on pavements and materials. His specialties were bituminous materials and pavement design—flexible pavements in particular. He was also the Illinois Department of Transportation’s ‘go-to asphalt guy’ for many years.”

Herrin is survived by his wife, Nancy; two daughters, Jeannie Plondke of Valdosta, Georgia, and Gwen Herrin of Chicago; one son, Stanley Herrin of Dallas; a brother, Varcell Herrin, of Joplin, Missouri; four grandchildren and one step-grandchild; and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 8, at Clark-Lindsey Village, 101 West Windsor Road, Urbana, Illinois.

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, contributions honoring Professor Moreland’s memory may be made to First Baptist Church of Champaign, Savoy, Illinois; Clark-Lindsey Village, Urbana, Illinois; or the Moreland Herrin Scholarship Fund (U of I Foundation, Moreland Herrin Scholarship, 205 North Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801).