Hardin Northern Announces Hall of Distinction Recipients for 2016

Hardin Northern is proud to announce the 2015 Hall of Distinction Inductees. They are, Gene E. Willike, class of 1952 and John D. Mathews, class of 1965. Both will be formally inducted into the Hall at the 2016 Commencement Ceremonies in the school auditorium on Sunday, May 29 at 2 pm. The Hall of Distinction is designed to recognize graduates of Dola, Dunkirk, and Hardin Northern that have gone on to make significant contributions in their chosen field and communities.

Gene E. Willeke

Gene E. Willeke ('52)
Gene E. Willeke (’52)

Gene E. Willeke graduated from Dola High School in 1952. In 1957, he received two Bachelor’s Degrees from Ohio Northern University, one in Civil Engineering and one in Mathematics.  He received a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering and Doctorate in Hydraulic Research Engineering from Stanford University.  He served in the U.S. Army from 1957-1959 with the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors at Ft. McNair, DC.  Gene was Director of Miami University’s Institute of Environmental Sciences (IES) and Professor of Geography. He received the university’s prestigious Benjamin Harrison Medallion as a faculty member who made outstanding national contributions to education.   Director of IES since 1977, Willeke was instrumental in moving the program into national prominence as a base for the education of environmental practitioners.  He went to Miami after a career as a civil engineer in the federal government, and as a university professor at Stanford and Georgia Institute of Technology.  He served as a consultant on numerous federal, state, regional and local environmental projects, ranging from the environmental science program at the University of Tamaulipas in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, to the Director’s Advisory Board of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Fernald Citizen’s Task Force.  He was the lead investigator/author of the U.S. National Drought Atlas. The work, the first of its type, is academically significant for its innovative use of long-term climate data and is expected to be the source of data for research and policy-making in the coming decades.  Dr. Willeke made a positive difference in the many lives he touched. He encouraged students to become more than they thought they could be and to think outside the box. Students all over the world are making a difference because he believed they could, and he convinced them of that fact.

John D. Mathews

John D. Mathews ('65)
John D. Mathews (’65)

From a small farm where the night sky and the dawn of the space age with the launch of Sputnik in 1957 led him to astronomy and the space sciences, Dr. John David Mathews and his many students have worked at multiple observatories and universities around the world at locations ranging from above the Arctic Circle to south of the equator. He first attended the Dola School, then moved to the Hardin Northern school building in 5th grade, and graduated with the HN Class of 1965. Support and encouragement from his family and teachers led him to Case Institute of Technology (Cleveland) where he earned a B.S. in Physics (honors) in 1969, following which he was invited to work at the Arecibo Observatory (Puerto Rico). The, then new, giant (1000 foot diameter) radio/radar telescope became central to much of his career. Based on research at Arecibo Observatory, he completed his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics at Case Western Reserve University in August 1972, where he continued in several faculty positions including Full Professor over the years 1969 through 1987. He joined The Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA) as Director of the Communications & Space Sciences Laboratory (1987-2007) and as Professor of Electrical Engineering. Over the years his teaching and research have involved many students from around the world who remain his friends and who have gone on to distinguished careers in science and engineering in many countries. His ongoing research has evolved through many areas of the radar-enabled space sciences, including upper atmosphere and ionosphere processes and the physics of the radar-visible micrometeoroid mass flux to Earth. In 2016 he and his students employed the large radars at Arecibo Observatory, Haystack Observatory (Massachusetts), and at the Jicamarca (Peru) Radio Observatory to map the moon and to search for ongoing meteoroid lunar impacts. He has written over 130 articles in professional journals on subjects as varied as having created an “artist-in-residence in engineering” program and on the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI). He is a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (London), and a Fulbright Scholar.