Neal Gambill Lineback, Ph.D.



Dr. Richard D. Howe, “Neal Gambill Lineback, Ph.D.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed May 23, 2024,

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Neal Gambill Lineback, Ph.D.


Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty


Dr. Richard D. Howe




Biographical sketches


Boone (N.C.)

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage



Professor Emeritus

Biographical Text

Professor Emeritus of Geography and Planning Neal Gambill Lineback (June 21, 1940-), was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the eldest of two sons of Marye Gambill and Ellis Hiatt Lineback from Forsyth and Alleghany counties, respectively. Lineback grew up in Forsyth County and graduated from Northwest High School in 1958. After attending Western Carolina College briefly Lineback worked as a millwright at Reynolds Tobacco Company. He then went to East Carolina College from 1960 through 1963, graduating with an A.B. degree in geography He taught at Drury Mason High School in Henry County, Virginia (1963-65), before entering the graduate program in geography at the University of Tennessee—Knoxville. While a graduate student, Lineback was a teaching assistant and also taught as an instructor. He received his M.S. degree in 1967 and his Ph.D. degree in 1970. Dr. Lineback married Katie Stanley of Rural Hall, North Carolina, on August 16, 1964. The Linebacks have two daughters, Mandy Alicia and Mitzi Anne, both of whom graduated from Appalachian State University. Mandy married Jason Gritzner of Missoula, Montana, in 2000, and the couple served a two-year tour with the Peace Corps in Bolivia. They have two daughters, Maya Rose, born in 2003 and Iris Montana, born in 2005. Mandy and Jason earned their master's degrees from Montana universities, and lived three years in Chester, California, before moving to Sandpoint, Ohio in 2005. Jason is employed as a hydrologist with the United States Forest Service, and Mandy, a GIS specialist and writer, is currently working from home. Mitzi married Jason Triplett of Boone, North Carolina, in 1999. Jason is a graduate of Appalachian State University and is currently Wachovia's Market President of Watauga, Wilkes, and Ashe counties. Mitzi and Jason have a daughter, Ella Madeline, who was born in 2003, and a son, Solomon Granr, born in 2007. After working as a senior programmer for Wachovia for five years, Mitzi chose to stay at home with their children and work as a web designer part-time for Appalachian. Lineback was hired as an instructor at the University of Alabama in 1969, and he moved up through the ranks to the position of professor. In 1981, he became chair of the Department of Geography. During his tenure at Alabama, he edited The Atlas of Alabama, only the third such modern state atlas in the country in 1974, and co-authored over seventy-five, full-color land-use and land-cover maps, many dealing with mineral rights' ownership across northern Alabama. During this time, he served as vice president and president of the Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers, and he also served as regional councilor and chair of the Publications Committee to the Association of American Geographers. In 1986, Dr. Lineback accepted the chair's appointment in the Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian State University, serving in that position until 1998. Under his leadership the department grew from six to ten faculty members, from six to twenty graduate students, and from thirty to over one hundred majors. Among several institutional committee memberships, he served as chair of the Rankin Science Building and Renovation Committee for nearly ten years. He was deeply involved in greenhouse gas, global warming, and global change research, both within North Carolina and nationwide, being responsible throughout his career for the receipt of over $750,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency, the North Carolina Energy Office, and other state and federal agencies in Alabama and North Carolina. Lineback was the University of Alabama chapter president of Sigma Xi (1985-86) and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Geographers, the National Council for Geographic Education, the American Geographical Society, the National Geographic Society, and the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Over his career, Dr. Lineback has written, cowritten, or edited five books; more than fifty articles in peer-reviewed publications or as monographs; and more than 120 articles in newsletters and journals. In 1987, he began writing a newspaper column called "Geography in the News," first published by the Watauga Democrat. At the rate of one article each week for the past twenty years, he has written over 900 articles, all of which have been printed in newspapers, publications and online. Distributed by the West Coast Company, Maps.Com, and marketed by Nystrom, his articles are used in more than eight-thousand K-12 classrooms and in several colleges and universities around the country, with an estimated weekly audience exceeding 250,000 readers. The column has won several national awards, one of the most prestigious being the first-ever Travelocity Award, which was given by the corporation Travelocity. com for outstanding geographic media. Lineback's greatest pride in his career has been the involvement of both graduate and undergraduate students in his research and service activities. Directly as a result of his employing fourteen student cartographers on his "Geography in the News" projects over the years, more than half have pursued careers with nationally known professional organizations, such as the National Geographic Society and Maps.Com; several have started their own cartographic businesses; and one received his doctorate in geography. Dr. Lineback entered the university's phased retirement program in 2002, then served as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for the 2004-05 academic year, officially retiring in 2005. After a 40-year career in education, he continues with his "Geography in the News" articles. However, his daughter, Mandy, is now writing regularly in the series, providing time to travel. Sources: Appalachian State University files and long association. -Dr. Richard D. Howe

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