Robert L. Ketter was an authority on earthquake engineering research and a former president of the State University of New York at Buffalo. After earning his B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Missouri and his Ph.D. in the same field from Lehigh in 1952, Ketter went on to inaugurate and head the University of Buffalo's first Department of Civil Engineering. In 1964 he was appointed dean of the university's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and in 1967 he became first vice president for facilities planning, where he began the design and construction of the new North Campus, a $750 million project, in Amherst, N.Y. From 1970 to 1982 Ketter served as president of the State University of New York at Buffalo.
In addition to his career in academia, Ketter served as director of the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, which was established in 1986 at the State University of New York at Buffalo under the auspices of the National Science Foundation. The center consists of more than 80 researchers in the United States and has core components at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University and at Cornell, Lehigh and Princeton Universities and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as well as at the SUNY campus in Buffalo.
Ketter was the author of more than 40 technical and educational papers and chapters in scientific journals and books. He was a co-author of several engineering texts. When he passed in 1989 he left behind his wife, Lorelei, three children and ten grandchildren. Ketter hall, home to the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo, is named in his honor.