Alum of the Month

August 2018

August 2018
Vincent P. Amy, PG, CPG, FGS

(BA, Geology, cum laude '60)

Q & A:

  • What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
    I have three favorite classes: Geomorphology, Structural Geology, and Field Geology. Geomorphology is a favorite because I learned what geologic features look like in the field, their causes, origins, and how they are modified by the passage of time. This knowledge facilitated an understanding of Structural Geology and the forces that cause control and modify the behavior of rocks forming the earth. Field Geology and field trips in the other courses showed me what many features look like, and they were great social activities.

    My favorite professor was Dr. Laurence Andrews. He taught me the value of learning about features, their causes, and how to interpret them. More importantly, I learned how to use that information in my future work, and present it to my associates,  employers and clients in understandable ways.

    My professors for geology and other necessary and related subjects were excellent and a significant factor in my learning. They enabled me to enter and succeed in my graduate career. As an example, I took three years of Spanish in high school, and wanted to continue it at Hofstra. I was persuaded to not do that and take a language better suited to geology. In this case my choice was German. That proved to be a smart move.

    My fondest memory of Hofstra is the camaraderie with newfound friends and fellow geology majors. This gave me a great feeling in spite of the fact that I commuted to Hofstra instead of living there.
  • What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned in that position?
    My first job after graduating from Hofstra, and starting my graduate career at Columbia University in its graduate program in geology, was a summer job for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a plant pest-control inspector. My real career started during my first year at Columbia, where I was a graduate research assistant. In this role, I helped construct a rock-deformation device. I received 12 credits of course work each semester, $180 per month, worked 15 hours per week in the Rock Deformation Lab, Under the guidance and supervision of Dr. Fred A. Donath, professor of Structural Geology and one of my favorite professors. While at Columbia, I started working for Geraghty & Miller (G&M), Consulting Ground Water-Geologists. This work inspired me to take courses in the subject, which formed the basis for my career with G&M. While at Hofstra, I learned how to write acceptable reports and give presentations. Learning that was a valuable and necessary experience, and I thank my professors for that.
  • 3. What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
    My field of specialty is hydrogeology. I was exposed to it when I worked for G&M. Initially, during my summer job with G&M, I was exposed to practical and essential elements of the technology of well design, construction, and testing, and analysis of aquifer performance, which aided me in selecting my career. Additionally, I found that geology and its applications are essential for supporting man’s activities. This is a recent “discovery” of the last 50 years as a result of our increased knowledge and awareness of the impact of our activities on the environment.

    My initial exposure and work in the field created a deep interest in the subject and led me to take graduate-level courses in the subject of hydrogeology. I was an assistant to C.V. Theis, one of the early leaders in the scientific and practical aspects of hydrogeology. His influence, along with my experience with G&M, are the reasons I chose a career in hydrogeology. I was able to live and apply those skills outside of the Long Island area which I wanted to do. As time went on, I was able to apply those skills over much of the U.S., South America, and the Caribbean.
  • What advice would you give Hofstra students?
    Regardless of what career path you have chosen, you should research “course requirements,” and develop an understanding of courses related to the degree. For example, geology (at a minimum) requires knowledge of chemistry, physics, and mathematics to be able to understand and apply geology in teaching and in other careers. Other necessary skills are the capability to write so that associates, employers and “clients” understand. Learn to give presentations in a manner that facilitates understanding of the facts that you will be presenting. This applies to all aspects of the subject. You should understand that these skills are fundamental. This gives a good start for your academic and future career, and when you enter the reality of the cold, cruel world. You should also realize that learning never stops and is essential for any career.
  • In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
    Hofstra is an OPPORTUNITY.
  • With over 40 years of experience as a hydrogeologist, what has been your single most rewarding accomplishment thus far and why?
    Probably my experience with injection-well programs in Florida and elsewhere is the most rewarding career experience. That work enabled utilities and industries to construct, test and use deep injection wells to safely dispose large quantities of treated sewage and liquid waste safely with no environmental impacts as well as protecting fresh groundwater.  Those facilities began operation in the 1970s and still operate safely today. Additionally, my work as a member of a consulting team, evaluating cleanup and assessment work at DOE facilities throughout the country, was challenging and useful.
  • Can you tell us about your experience transitioning from president and chief operating officer of Geraghty & Miller to vice chairman of the Board of Directors? What advice would you give someone transitioning into a senior role?
    Transitioning from chief operating officer at Geraghty & Miller to vice chairman of the Board of Directors was a highly satisfying experience. The board was created by G&M to facilitate the change from a private company to a publicly owned company. In this case, the board was created to facilitate the change and create a company whose stock would be sold to the public. The board was established to do this and was composed of outside experts in legal aspects of the process as well as financial experts. Additionally, senior staff of G&M were added to the board to assist the company in the process of going “public.” They were essential in the process of informing the other board members and underwriters about the company, how we worked, and how we maintained a consistent level of profit. Transitioning to this role meant that I had to be technically experienced as well as capable of managing the non-technical aspects of the business. This was achieved by my participation over the years.
  • Who was the person that most influenced you, and how?
    The greatest influence on my becoming a geologist was Dr. Larry Andrews of the Hofstra Geology Department. He educated me in the principles of geology (all of the other faculty members were influential also), and taught me how to be a geologist, especially in the practical aspects of the science and its applications in the corporate world. Jim Geraghty, one of the firm’s founders, was my mentor and taught me how to communicate with clients in meaningful ways, so they could understand the value of the services we provided.
  • Currently, you work as an independent career consulting geologist. What made you choose to take on this career after retiring from Geraghty & Miller in 1993?
    When I retired, I did not change my profession. I did a few consulting jobs, but I did not actively pursue projects. I spent most of my time being retired. Eventually, I used my skills as a geologist to do volunteer work for the Regulatory Group of the  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Most, if not all, of these activities involved reviewing reports related to the environmental aspects of projects in the Everglades, as well as limestone mining activities in the Miami, Florida, area.
  • How has your degree from Hofstra University helped you on your journey?
    Hofstra University (Hofstra College in those days) gave me the knowledge and training necessary for my career. I learned the scientific aspects of geology and how to use them. Hofstra gave me the knowledge to complete my formal education so that I could apply and be accepted into the graduate program at Columbia University, and pursue a successful career.
Vincent P. Amy

Vincent P. Amy, PG, CPG, FGS,is a career consulting geologist. With over 40 years of experience as a hydrogeologist, Vincent has performed duties ranging from the evaluation of ground water-contamination assessment programs for the Department of Energy Office of Self-Assessment at facilities in the South and West, and the development of landfill and solid waste programs for new and existing facilities, to working on geologic studies in Spain, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Colombia, as well as serving as an expert witness in various geology and  hydrogeology trials and hearings dealing with groundwater diversions, contamination, landfills, limestone mines, and injection wells, to name a few.

Vincent began his career in 1961 at Geraghty & Miller Inc., Consulting Ground-Water Geologists, where he worked as the company’s first full-time employee. After 10 years of dedication, Vincent was promoted to executive vice president, and opened Geraghty & Miller’s Palm Beach, Florida, office in 1974. In this role, Vincent became involved in programs such as design, permitting, and construction inspection, as well as the testing of deep injection wells for the disposal of treated sewage and industrial waste along with related geologic research and the geologic research development of geophysical logging programs. In 1984, he was appointed president and chief operating officer of the company and held this position until 1988, when he was elected vice chairman of the Board of Directors. Here, he was responsible for a full range of water-supply development and management company management activities, as well as the design and successful completion of many injection well systems. He also served as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the development of Florida’s Underground Injection Regulations, and co-wrote a guidance document for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among many other achievements.

Vincent retired from Geraghty & Miller in 1993, and since has worked as an independent volunteer geologist for the Regulatory Office of the Corps of Engineers in Palm Beach Gardens. Over his extensive career, he has received several awards and honors, including Volunteer of the Year; Commander's Medal for the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville, Florida; the Commander’s Medal; the Parker Medal from the American Institute of Professional Geologists; and inclusion in the 18th edition of Who’s Who in the South and Southwest. Vincent is a proud cum laude Hofstra graduate with many fond memories of the Geology Department.

He is Senior Fellow of the Geologic Society of America and a Fellow of the Geologic Society of London.  He is licensed as a Professional Geologist in Florida and prior to retirement he was licensed/registered as a geologist in Maine, Delaware, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.

Additionally, he was the Project Geologist for the Hudson Institute's Study for the creation of a shipping canal connecting the Southwest Caribbean with Pacific Ocean.  He served as a Chairman and Member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Governor's Committee for the Sustainability of South Florida.  He was listed on the Master Roster of technical Experts of ORAU (Oak ridge Associated universities).  He was the project manager for developing groundwater supplies for the AT&T Long Lines Department hardened cable system to provide a means of communication in event of a nuclear war.

My interest in Geology really got started when I was assigned to  a special U.S. Army Unit based in Ethiopia during the Korean war.  There I was exposed mountainous terrain and the unique Geology which fostered my interest.