80 on the 4th of July, 2016
When he graduated from high school in California at age 16, Pete Likins was already in love with his future wife and his future career. Married at 19, he claimed a bachelor's degree from Stanford at age 20 and a Master's degree from MIT at 21, both in civil engineering. Sputnik had captured his imagination while at MIT, and upon graduation he joined the CalTech Jet Propulsion Lab, which had just launched the first US Satellite. When he returned to Stanford for his PhD in engineering mechanics, he was preparing for a faculty career in spacecraft dynamics and control.
He accepted a faculty position at UCLA in 1964, and spent twelve years progressing rapidly through the academic ranks, earning an international reputation for spacecraft research and technical consulting and receiving honors for distinguished teaching. He continued on to Columbia University, first serving as professor and dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, then as provost of the university.
In 1982, Pete became president of Lehigh University. He led that institution for the next fifteen years, after which his career path again turned west. In 1997 Pete became president of the University of Arizona, a position he held until his retirement on June 10, 2006.
Among the various national and international advisory boards he served on were the White House Advisory Committee on the Health of the Universities and the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In addition, he was a member of gubernatorial task forces in Pennsylvania and Arizona that addressed economics and high higher education issues. Pete also served on hospital, university and corporate boards in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Florida and Arizona.
A very successful competitive wrestler in high school and college, he served interollegiate athletics later in life in various capacities. He was a charter member of the NCAA Presidents Commission, served on the NCAA Executive Committee, and chaired the NCAA Task Force on the Future of Intercollegiate Athletics. He is recognized by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in its Hall of Outstanding Americans.
In recognition of his work on spacecraft dynamics and control, he was elected Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and later elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
Author or co-author of more than fifty reviewed technical publications and three engineering textbooks during his active faculty years, Pete returned to writing after twenty-four years in university presidencies, publishing a family memoir (A NEW AMERICAN FAMILY: A Love Story;) and a novel (COYOTE SPEAKS: Cross Country Run.)
Pete and his wife Pat, married for over sixty years, raised an interracial family, including six adopted children. They continue to make their home in Tucson, AZ.
|Copyright ©2016 Peter Likins.|