Tarleton mourns passing of former provost Dr. Robert C. Fain


STEPHENVILLE (August 8, 2016) — Professor emeritus and former Tarleton State University provost Dr. Robert C. “Bob” Fain died Aug. 6 in Stephenville at the age of 79. Services are set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at Stephenville’s First Baptist Church, 334 W. Green St.

Fain joined Tarleton’s Department of Physical Sciences in 1966 as an associate professor. He became head of the department in 1968 and dean of the School of Arts & Sciences in 1970.

Favored by students and earning the respect of colleagues, Fain was named dean of academic affairs in 1979 and the university’s provost and vice president of academic affairs in 1980. When he returned to the classroom16 years later, his stint as a university provost and vice president of academic affairs was the second-longest in the nation.

During Fain’s service as provost, Tarleton developed policies on academic admission and retention and created current procedures for promotion and tenure of faculty.

Fain served under three university presidents and saw student enrollment more than triple. During his leadership, Tarleton added associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing and hydrology.

Although he spent most of his career in administration, Fain most enjoyed teaching and interacting with students. Many of his students went on to earn advanced degrees, working as professional chemists and serving as administrators at other colleges and universities. One of Fain’s students, astronaut and medical investigator Millie Hughes-Fulford, flew with NASA’s first Spacelab crew.

Fain fully retired from Tarleton in 2003.

He received numerous honors and awards during his university career. The 224-seat auditorium in the Dr. Lamar Johanson Science Building bears his name. The Stephenville Optimist Club annually honors his legacy with the Robert C. Fain Honorary Scholarship.

The Tarleton Alumni Association selected Fain as its Distinguished Faculty in 2000, and he served on the board of the Tarleton State University Foundation from 2001 to 2006.

He grew up in Santa Rosa and Llano, Texas, and attended Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State), earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. He received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin.

Fain is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Pat, a former mathematics teacher with the Stephenville Independent School District.

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