William J. Hall Biography

William J. Hall is Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana‑Champaign, and a consulting engineer. He was born in Berkeley, Calif., on April 13, 1926. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and Kings Point (during World War II he served in the Pacific as a Merchant Marine Midshipman). After the war he attended the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan., where he received a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering in 1948. In 1948‑49 he worked as an engineer with the SOHIO Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company of Ohio. In 1949 he began graduate studies in civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana‑Champaign and received an M.S. degree in 1951 and a Ph.D. degree in 1954. He has been a faculty member of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1954, holding the rank of Professor of Civil Engineering since 1959, and Head of the Department from 1984-1991; he retired in 1993. For several years while Head, the department was ranked first in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. He was called back to the University in 1998 as Interim Director of the Research and Technology Management Office of the Champaign-Urbana campus (dealing with patents, copyrights and intellectual property).

As a member of the faculty, specializing in structures, materials and structural dynamics, he has been engaged in research and instruction; his research centered on earthquake engineering and military structures. He is the author or co‑author of more than 220 articles, books and chapters in books, covering topics in the fields of structural engineering, structural mechanics and dynamics, soil dynamics, earthquake engineering, plasticity, fatigue, brittle fracture mechanics, civil defense and education. 

He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering in 1968, one of the youngest ever elected. He was elected to Honorary Membership in the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1987; from ASCE he has received the W. L. Huber Research Award in 1963, the Newmark Medal and the Howard Award in 1984, the C. Martin Duke Award in 1991 and the Norman Medal in 1992. The Halliburton Engineering Education Leadership Award was granted by the College of Engineering in 1980. He received the 1998 National Honor Member award from Chi Epsilon, and the prestigious Housner Award from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in 1998. He has received numerous other honors and awards.

Dr. Hall served as a consultant to a number of industrial organizations and governmental agencies. This work has included such activity as development of seismic design criteria for nuclear power plants (US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and industry) as well as other major facilities. Beginning in 1970 he was a member of the original design team for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and was affiliated with the project for the next 35 years. Other assignments involved participation in numerous blast and shock studies for military protective facilities for the Department of Defense. Beginning in 1990, for several years he was a member of the senior technical seismic design team for the proposed Trans Alaska LNG Gas System (Yukon Pacific Corporation, CSX). He was one of the three Commissioners appointed in 1990 by the Governor of Illinois to the Low-Level Radioactive Disposal Facility Siting Commission, dealing with the suitability and safety of the proposed Martinsville, Ill., site; the site was rejected. In 1994-2000 he was Chairman of the Project Oversight Committee of the SAC Steel Project, a national R&D effort arising out of the 1994 Northridge California earthquake. During 1989-2000 he was a consultant to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, reviewing Department of Energy production facilities. 

He has served as chairman or member of numerous major committees in such bodies as the National Research Council (NRC), National Science Foundation and Department of Defense. In 1965 he served on the Department of Commerce Technical Advisory Panel on High Speed Ground Transportation. He was a Member of the U.S. Delegation on Earthquake Engineering and Hazard Mitigation to the People's Republic of China in 1978. During 1986-88 he chaired an American Society of Civil Engineers study entitled Civil Engineering in the 21st Century; and in 1989 was a founding director of the Civil Engineering Research Foundation. In 1995 he was a member of the National Research Council committee dealing with Defensive Architecture (hardening technology transfer from DOD to the civilian sector on measures for earthquake and terrorist protection). Throughout his career he has been member or chair of numerous University of Illinois Committees, including for example the University Research Board, as well as numerous committees of technical societies.