Dr. Dianne Gerber Nielson’70 DSC
Awarded October 2, 2021
2020 Distinguished Service Citation
Dianne Gerber Nielson had an affinity for natural resource management, serving the people of the state of Utah as Director of the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Executive Director of Environmental Quality, and Energy Advisor under seven governors. Before she retired, Dianne successfully spearheaded initiatives that permitted oil and mining sites and protected the environment throughout the state of Utah.
Dianne graduated from Beloit in 1970 with a degree in geology. A member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, she began her Beloit career as a history major, but soon was drawn to geology, thanks to the encouragement of Professor Emeritus of Geology Hank Woodard. Newly married to Dr. Dennis Nielson’70, her classmate and fellow geology major, she moved to Hanover, N.H. After several months of analyzing earthquakes in the Department of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College, she was encouraged to complete her master’s degree there as well. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in geology at Dartmouth, becoming the first woman to do so.
The couple moved to Salt Lake City where they worked for the Anaconda Copper Company before she became involved in environmental law and policy for the state of Utah. Dianne earned trust and respect from both sides of the political aisle. She served on panels for the National Science Foundation and was a board member of the National Academy of Science, reviewing publications and proposals for projects related to minerals and hazardous waste disposal. She worked to defend the Goshute, a small Native American tribe whose health was threatened by a temporary waste storage facility that was placed on their land.
Dianne was not the first or last Beloiter in her family. Her mother, Dorothy Gerber’49, also attended the college, as well as her son, Preston Nielson’05. She also gave generously to the college and became a member of the Duffy Society in the 1990s. We are thankful for her contributions to the college and the environment. Dianne’s legacy will live on in the hearts of her colleagues and friends.
The Beloit College Alumni Association is pleased to honor Dianne Gerber Nielson posthumously with the 2020 Distinguished Service Citation.