George Warren Fuller Award

2016 Recipients
Past Recipients
About George Warren Fuller

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Award Criteria


Purpose of this award: George Warren Fuller Awards are presented annually by the American Water Works Association to the sections' respective selected members for their distinguished service to the water supply field in commemoration of the sound engineering skill . . . the brilliant diplomatic talent . . . and the constructive leadership which characterized the life of George Warren Fuller.

The award: A George Warren Fuller Award Plaque and pin.

Frequency of the award: Annually, if deserved.

Eligibility for the award: To qualify for the award the person must be an Individual Member or a duly appointed representative of an organization member of the American Water Works Association. In the case of a posthumous award, the recipient must have been an AWWA member at the time of his/her death. Each section may make annual Fuller Award presentations equal to its number of Directors on the Association Board of Directors.

Entry requirements: Submission of a completed AWWA entry form by any section member to the section Fuller Award Committee.

Nomination procedure: Any section member may nominate an individual by submitting the completed entry form to the section Fuller Award Committee. A "citation" or statement of the basis upon which the recommendation is made must be included. Citations should in general contain 40 words or less and be appropriate for introduction of the awardee at the section award ceremony and the Fuller Society Breakfast held during the AWWA annual conference. Editorial adjustments in citations may be made as deemed necessary.

Nomination and submission deadline: Nominations shall be submitted to the section Fuller Award Committee as established by each section. The section Fuller Award Committee Chair shall report the awardee to the Executive Director of AWWA by March 10 including the awardee's full name and address and the citation to accompany the award. This information should also be included as part of the official section meeting report by the section secretary.

Fuller award committee membership: The Fuller Award Committee shall consist of five members of the section and shall be appointed and announced at least six months prior to the section's annual meeting. All members of the Fuller Award Committee, if possible, shall be former recipients of the Fuller Award or the Water Utility Man of the Year Award. If this is not possible, committee members may be chosen from AWWA members who are leaders of the water works industry within the section.

The Fuller Award Committee of each section shall be set up on a rotating basis with one new member being appointed each year by the section chair to serve a five-year term and with the senior member designated chair of the committee. The section secretary should send the name of the Fuller Award Committee Chair to the Executive Director each year. Under this system, each member will become chair in the fifth and final year of his/her service on the committee and will retire from the committee when his/her report for that year is given to the section.

New sections will establish the rotation system by appointing their first committee members for staggered terms of from one to five years and designating the member appointed for one year as the chair. In such instances the earliest recipient of the Fuller Award or the Water Utility Man of the Year Award should be appointed to the committee for a five-year term.

Each member appointed to a section Fuller Award Committee shall be furnished with a copy of these criteria, the attached copy of the statement on the life and works of George Warren Fuller to guide him/her in the exercise of his duties on the committee, and the entry form.

Method of selecting the award recipient: The recipients of the George Warren Fuller Awards are selected by the individual sections of the Association from among their own members in accordance with these criteria. Such selection is presumed to recognize publicly the contribution toward the advancement of water works practice.

Each year the Fuller Award Committee of each section upon reviewing the eligible candidates, shall determine if any member(s) of the section has provided outstanding leadership or has made a significant contribution toward the advancement of the water works practice within the Association and/or the section such that he/she should receive the award. Following selection of an awardee, the committee shall report its selection to the Executive Director who will inform the official representative regarding the award presentation. After the award has been presented the committee will forward its report, including the official citation, to the section secretary.

It is emphasized that the qualifications for the award specify that the services of the candidate must have been over and above those expected of officers and committee members in fulfilling the obligations or duties assigned to them. It is emphasized that the performance of a nominee must be exceptional and extraordinary. Each section may award the same number of Fuller Awards as the number of its section Directors on the Association Board of Directors.

Presentation of the award: The announcement of the award shall be made a part of the annual meeting of the section granting it and shall be made by the Association's official representative at the section meeting or by the presiding official of the section. The reading of the committee report should be accompanied by the reading of the citation and as much of the prepared statement concerning the life and works of George Warren Fuller as fits the occasion.

The presentation of an award plaque will be made at the Fuller Award Society Breakfast held during the American Water Works Association Annual Conference and Exposition. If, in special cases, the awardee is unable to attend the annual conference, the presentation of the award plaque may be made at the section meeting.

Each awardee automatically becomes a member of the George Warren Fuller Award Society of the American Water Works Association. No initiation fees or annual dues are required for membership in this society. The annual meeting of the society is held at the Fuller Award Society Breakfast at the American Water Works Association Annual Conference and Exposition.

About George Warren Fuller


"Little can be said about George Warren Fuller without recalling a thousand and one connections which he has had with sanitary engineering practice in this country and abroad. Amazingly active mentally, he always catalyzed those individuals who were fortunate enough to work with him. An enthusiasm, tempered by seasoned judgment and reinforced by a remarkable technical knowledge, accounting for the fact that his name is identified with almost every important sanitary advance in this country in the last four decades . . . Many, however, are born at the right time who are either ill equipped or are lacking in sufficient vision to make the most of that good fortune. In Mr. Fuller's case, heredity and environmental influence, coupled with remarkable energy, all contributed to the development of a practitioner of outstanding stature. He will be remembered long in the future, as much for his distinctive personal characteristics as for his long list of contributions to sanitary science and practice."

So wrote Abel Wolman editorially in Municipal Sanitation after Fuller's death on June 15, 1934.

George Warren Fuller was born in Franklin, Massachusetts, December 21, 1868, on the farm which was part of the land acquired by the family during the Revolutionary period. Three or four Fullers came to Massachusetts from England before the middle of the Seventeenth Century. The one with whom we are concerned was Ensign Thomas Fuller, who, in 1642, by vote of the people of Dedham, was "admitted"--a prerequisite to citizenship at that time--to the purchase of Martin Phillips' lot. He seems to have been a capable and versatile man.

He was surveyor for several years after 1660 and selectman for fourteen years; he repeatedly represented the community at the general court, was co-trustee of money bequeathed for the establishment of a Latin school and laid out the road to Cambridge as well as many minor ones. He kept the town's ammunition, for which he was paid ten shillings a year, but had considerable trouble in collecting the fee, and at one time remitted part of it in order to obtain settlement. In the succeeding line, down through Grandfather Asa Fuller, who was a Minute Man, there continues to be activity of a civic nature--service as selectmen, court representatives, and the like.

George Warren Fuller was at the head of his class when he attended the Dedham schools. His scholarship was, of course, a source of great satisfaction to his mother. At sixteen he passed the examination for entrance at MIT but, his father having died a few weeks before, it was thought best for him to have a fourth year in high school, after which he was graduated at the head of his class and with the highest marks given up to that time. At MIT he met and came under the influence of such people as William T. Sedgwich, Ellen H. Richards, and Hiram F. Mills, all enthusiastically interested in the new science of public health.

Their influence was felt throughout his life. Following his graduation, he spent a year at the University of Berlin and in the office of Piefke, engineer of the Berlin water works. On his return to Massachusetts, he was employed by the state board of health for some five years, during the latter part of the period being in charge of the Lawrence Experiment Station where he extended the experimental work and studies started by another famous chemist and engineer, Allen Hazen. The Lawrence Experiment Station was then recognized as leading in research on the purification of water supplies and treatment of sewage in this country.

Fuller's brilliant achievements in this field attracted such attention to his ability that he was selected in 1895 to take charge of the experiments at Louisville, Kentucky, in the use of rapid filtration. Immediately after he had accomplished this work, he was offered a similar engagement in Cincinnati, Ohio. These experiments served to remove the questions which had been raised about the adequacy of rapid filtration compared with slow sand filtration for these municipalities, and, at the same time, established the value of mechanical filtration where conditions were such as to warrant its use.

During his 34 years of practice as a consulting engineer (following the opening of his New York office and, later, the opening of branch offices in Kansas City, Mo.; Toledo, Ohio; and Philadelphia, Pa.),  Fuller advised more than 150 cities, commissions, and corporations on their water supply and sewerage problems. His outstanding engagements included Washington, D.C.; New Orleans, La.; St. Louis, Mo.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Wilmington, Dela.; New Haven, Conn.; Lexington, Ky.; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; Montreal, Quebec; the Shanghai (China) Water Company; the International Joint Commission (Canada and United States boundary waters); the New Jersey Water Policy Commission; the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission; the Hackensack Valley Sewerage Commission; and the Metropolitan Sewerage Commission of Rhode Island. For many of these engagements, his service included full control over all engineering work involved in the preparation of plans and contracts, as well as the actual construction.

Notwithstanding a busy life in active practice, Fuller gave freely of his time and energy to the advancement of his chosen profession through participation in the activities of technical societies, through contributions to the engineering press, and through educational activities. His record in this respect is outstanding. He was a member of the American Water Works Association (President); the American Public Health Association (President); the Engineering Foundation (Chair); the American Society of Civil Engineers (Vice-President); the American Institute of Consulting Engineers; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the Institution of Civil Engineers of Great Britain; the American Chemical Society; the American Society of Bacteriologists; the Engineering Institute of Canada; the Vereines Duetscher Ingenieure; the Association Generale des Hygienistes et Techniciens Municipaux of France; and the Franklin Institute.

Perhaps the most significant of Fuller's characteristics was his belief in organization and his devotion to standardization.

In 1920, at the Montreal Convention of the AWWA, Fuller negotiated the organization of a committee to codify and standardize water works practice. The Association before that time had developed a few specifications documents, but its relation to the preparation of those documents was that of cooperative participation rather than leadership. The group under his leadership and chairmanship was first called the Standardization Council, later the Committee on Water Works Practice. He continued to be a dominant influence in the AWWA during the time its constitution and bylaws were being substantially revised.

At the New York Convention of the AWWA early in June 1934 (only a week before his death), Fuller was in constant attendance, participating in the sessions and continuing even then his stimulation of the activities of the Association and its elected leaders.

With the AWWA, APHA, ASCE and FSWA alone, more than 45,000 professional and technical men in North America are indebted to Fuller for the guidance of their organizational readjustments in the 1920-30 period, which made possible the standing that these associations have today.

George Warren Fuller was first of all a capable engineer, equipped with a mind that never closed a channel to new ideas. He was an inventive technician--first in the laboratory field, later in engineering and design. He was a skilled negotiator, a public relations counsel who never called himself one, but who by such skill persuaded reluctant city officials that they were very wise and right to authorize sanitary improvements. He was a loyal citizen who found himself able and willing to render service to his country during World War I. He was uncannily able to give ear to the ideas and aspirations of younger men in the field and to inspire in them some measure of the spirit of leadership that he possessed. He believed in the organization and assembly of technical and professional men and devoted himself fully to the advancement of their associations and societies to the end that they serve better through planned action and cooperation.

Fitting indeed were the words of M. N. Baker, in his editorial tribute in the Engineering News Record;

"History will be better able than we are to appraise the contributions of George W. Fuller to the art of water purification, but history will not be so well able to appraise Mr. Fuller's personal qualities of understanding, kindliness, sound judgment and tact as are we who have been fortunate enough to have frequent contact with him in our daily work  . . .  Here also should be recorded an acknowledgment of the debt the profession owes to Mr. Fuller, especially his chosen branch of the profession, for his liberal contributions of time and energy to its professional societies. It can be said without fear of contradiction that it was chiefly through his efforts that the American Water Works Association has been raised from the level of a social group to its present high standing as a technical organization. Mr. Fuller's passing also serves to re-emphasize the youthfulness of sanitary engineering and the fundamental nature of the contributions made by a generation of notable men, now largely departed -- work that centered around the Lawrence experiments and laid the foundation for present design methods and practices of water filtration  . . .  Fuller's achievements and those of others of his generation are a legacy to be utilized by the present generation to carry the art forward to greater perfection."