UWP Board: Phil Harrold

Phil first discovered the Uncompahgre River as a summer intern working for the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division, in 1976 and 1977. He remembers the hot springs of the region most vividly and, as a flatlander by birth, the jagged peaks of the San Juan front.

The rivers and watersheds of the Rocky Mountain West continued to hold his interest as he pursued a master’s degree in geomorphology and hydrogeology (M.S., University of Kansas, 1985), and researched the climatic and tectonic histories of alluvial terraces along the upper Salmon River in central Idaho. His full-time career in the U.S.G.S. as a hydrologist began in Fairbanks, Alaska and continued in Denver, where he shifted to groundwater investigations at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site in the 1980s.

Phil’s curiosity about the natural history of drainage systems translated rather surprisingly into the history and sociology of religion at the University of Chicago in the 1990s. His Ph.D. (2001) research focused on the intersection of faith and public life at American universities in the late nineteenth century. His teaching career in university and seminary settings, in the U.K. as well as in the U.S., tapped into his abiding interests in the intricacies of change and adaptation over time. In his post-retirement years he seeks a deeper holistic understanding of how people respond to climate as well as cultural changes.

Phil and his wife, Carol, have resided in Ouray County since 2016 and are increasingly active in a variety of local organizations. They share commitments to church life, the performing arts, and sauntering along the trails of our scenic corner of the world. Phil is now devoting more time to writing, and, especially, to multidisciplinary projects that combine environmental awareness, including watershed management, and the spiritual dimension of life.