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Professor Emeritus Eric Drumm Dies

Eric Drumm.Professor Emeritus Eric C. Drumm, age 68, died February 7, at UT Hospital. He enjoyed a 37 year career at UT, most recently as the head of the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science from 2008 to 2016, and before that as a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

A memorial service and celebration of his life will be at 3 p.m. Thursday, February 20, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 6500 Northshore Drive. A receiving of friends will follow.

In lieu of flowers, contributions are asked to be made to the Eric Drumm Construction Science Program Enhancement Endowment, University of Tennessee Foundation (notate in memory of Dr. Eric Drumm), Attention Tom Looney, UT Institute of Agriculture, 107 Morgan Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996-4502, or Westminster Presbyterian Church.

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Faculty and former student remembrances:

Richard Bennett

Faculty Colleague

“Eric was a great friend and colleague for 37 years. He was the true professor, being involved in important research, being a good university citizen in terms of service, and being a great teacher. One of the things that distinguished Eric was his patience with and care for students. He wanted students to learn, and he would do whatever it took for them to learn. He taught far more than geotechnical engineering, but would teach students about life. Eric had a quiet way about him, but you knew that he cared for you. He will be deeply missed.”

Monica Sowders

Former Student

“Dr. Drumm was not only an excellent teacher, but an enthusiastic mentor long after graduation. His teaching carried outside the classroom and integrated into the profession, giving topics a real world application. He demonstrated his interest in the whole student, and I appreciated the opportunity to get to work for Dr. Drumm as teaching assistant, have him provide guidance as I entered the profession, and come back again 10 years later as student. He helped me develop and succeed in a profession I enjoy and will be greatly missed.”

R. Michael Bivens

Former Student

“Dr. Drumm was the key educator responsible for shaping my career. My entry into the field of Geotechnical Engineering is a result of my first exposure to soil mechanics in Dr. Drumm’s undergraduate class. He was also my major professor during my first graduate degree at UT. I don’t believe it would have been possible for someone to do a better job developing students into professionals, however he was always searching for ways to Improve. Looking back, it is clear to me now that Dr. Drumm played a pivotal role in my choice of careers and for that, I owe him a debt of gratitude. My thoughts and prayers will be with the Drumm family and those who were blessed by his presence through the years. Thank you Dr. Drumm, I’ll miss you.”

C. Raymond Tant, PE

Former Student

“Dr. Drumm was my soils professor as an undergraduate. Upperclassmen spoke of him as a name brand, often counseling underclassmen to make sure they got him as their professor. He was always able to convey the complexity and artistry of soil mechanics to his students marrying the theoretical knowledge into a practical application on both paper and into field. Very often bringing his enthusiasm and light heated personality with him.  If there are player’s coaches he was a student’s professor. I was fortunate enough to be involved in ASCE which put me in more direct contact with faculty. As such I was offered the opportunity to work with Drumm as a graduate student in the Institute for Geotechnology. As an adviser, Drumm was a very personal and approachable professor as well as a mentor. His balance of professional life, family life and attention to his personal health were a model for life. I would often run into him riding his bike around campus or at the aquatic center getting ready for afternoon laps with Dr. Bennett in the summers.”

Isaac Jeldes

Former Student

“‘Hi Isaac, I’m Eric Drumm…’ those were the first few words I heard from a yet-to be-known man. Those words were backed up with a warm smile. This was November 2007; my first trip to the US. To my surprise, I was able to communicate with my future PhD mentor. ‘Wow my spoken English is not that bad!’ or at least that was my joyful impression after our first meeting. A year later I started one of the most wonderful journeys of my life. I’m his last graduated PhD student, and I’m honored he was my guide. But the biggest lesson I received was not within Sokolovskii’s or Scott’s theories, instead it was on the examples of kindness and generosity continuously exercised by him. His academic accomplishments never stopped him from exercising his true greatness. And I was not the one that was able to communicate with him: he was the one that patiently tried to understand me. This was the essence of Eric Drumm; kindness and respect for every person. Thank you, Dr. Drumm for setting my path to success in life.”