2023 Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr. James “Jim” Hendrix
Dr. James “Jim” Hendrix attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He earned successive degrees, B.S., M.S., and Ph.D., in Chemical Engineering. During his graduate studies, Jim taught classes and labs as a research assistant. He learned that he had a passion for teaching and working with students. This would forever change his life and launch him on a journey that few envisioned for this young man.
James “Jim” Hendrix grew up in a small rural town in Nebraska. Most small towns there are centered around agriculture but this town had a cement plant operated by Ashgrove Cement. Jim’s father worked there and carved out a living for the family. Jim was fascinated by plant operations and was drawn to engineering as a major. Jim played sports in high school, football, and track. His parents made sure he had no free time! School, sports, work, and Church on Sunday. Monday came and the cycle was repeated!
After the completion of his doctorate studies, he took a job with the University of Nevada at Reno and continued to develop his learning and teaching passion as an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. In 1973 he became an Assistant Professor. From the start, Dr. Hendrix wanted to learn more about the mines in Nevada and the mineral processing plants in particular. He established relationships with various entities in Nevada and took summer work at the Kennecott Robinson Mine in order to get hands-on experience. He wanted to teach students about the practical and applied aspects as well as the fundamentals. His first daughter was even born in East Ely on a warm Nevada summer day, as Jim got invited back, to his surprise, for a second year at Robinson. The Kennecott people who hired him to remain friends to this day.
Mining companies began to support his short course programs and his emerging graduate study research. Students and young engineers applied to Mackay School of Mines to become understudies of Dr. Hendrix.
In 1979 Dr. Hendrix’s leadership qualities were recognized with the promotion to the Mining Department Chair and simultaneously was promoted to the Department Chair for Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering.
Jim’s students acquired jobs in the mining industry in Nevada and outside Nevada. They rose to executive leadership positions in major companies as well as becoming recognized for their operations skills. Jim’s reputation was growing and he shared new concepts and ideas for research centers. One such center was the Generic Center For Mineral Waste Treatment and Recovery. Jim was ahead of his time as a leader in stewardship to the environment and wanting to do collaborative research with multiple universities on water treatment and recovery of heavy metals for proper disposal. Dr. Hendrix was the Director of the center until 1995 when the US Government disbanded the US Bureau of Mines, even though the center was highly successful and developing leading-edge technology.
In 1995 Jim returned to Nebraska to look after the family farm and his elderly parents, taking a position at his alma mater, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, as the Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology. He continued relevant research applicable to mineral processing by taking graduate students with him to Nebraska. He served as a Professor of Chemical Engineering in full detail as an instructor, at all levels of studies and acquiring research grants from government agencies and private companies.
Although his love of Nebraska was strong, Jim was asked to come back to UNR one more time to help revive the Mackay School of Mines and provide crucial leadership in a time of reorganization. He served until he retired in 2016.
Dr. Hendrix has always said that watching his students grow and succeed in life was his greatest reward. Jim has been a key figure in the Mining industry in Nevada, although his humble personality and quick wit have served to promote others first.
Jim’s family has always been the most important part of his life for him. Jim and his wife Judy enjoy traveling, hiking, and spending time with the families of his daughters Jennifer and Jessica. His major avocation is the maintenance of the grounds in Nebraska and Coloma, California. The Mackay parties, held by Jim and Judy at their Coloma place, are better remembered by former students than Jim is!
Jim and Judy have 4 grandchildren, as reported by Jim, 3 boys, and a princess!
Jim is legendary in the education arena at UNR and is everything the Nevada MPD LTA embraces.