Campus News

Emeritus professor and former A&S dean dies in Athens

William J. (Jack) Payne, 78, Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and former dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, died Feb. 14 in Athens.

Payne joined the UGA faculty in 1955 and was head of the microbiology department from 1968 until 1977, when he was named acting dean of the arts and sciences college. He became permanent dean in 1978 and held the position for 10 years.

While serving as dean, he was named Alumni Foundation Distinguished Professor of Microbiology; after stepping down, he returned to the microbiology department until his retirement in 1993.

As dean, Payne helped start the Sandy Beaver teaching professorships and teaching awards, and created an academic advising program for general studies students. A strong supporter of the arts, he helped establish the Franklin College Chamber Music Series to offer free concerts for the community.

An authority in the field of denitrification, Payne is credited with developing important advances in assaying the activities of enzymes that play a key role in forms of nitrogen found in nature. He was also known for his research on how sulfatase enzymes contribute to the microbial degradation of pollution.

He was author of more than 120 scientific papers and four books, including Denitrification, published in 1981 and considered the definitive work in the field.

Payne was active in the Athens community, serving on the board of the Athens Symphony, as a volunteer for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, and as a member of the Athens City Club and Athens Torch Club.