Professor emeritus and former associate dean Howard Wakeland has died

Howard Wakeland
Howard Wakeland

Former associate dean of engineering and faculty in agricultural and biological engineering Howard L. Wakeland died Aug. 9, at the age of 96. 

Howard earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural engineering from the U. of I., later joining the faculty as an instructor in 1951. He was appointed as assistant dean in the College of Engineering and assistant professor of agricultural engineering in 1954. Wakeland became associate dean and full professor in 1967. He served U. of I. for 52 years and oversaw the graduation of 35,484 students during his tenure. 

At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Howard worked to make engineering education more inclusive. The Minority Engineering Program was one example of Wakeland's successes. The program began in 1968 when he met with a group of Black engineering students and responded to their concerns. By 1973, his efforts earned him an invitation to Washington, D.C., to be involved in national engineering education programs for underrepresented students.

Another of Howard's achievements was his leadership in the creation and development of the Engineering Alliance for Global Education, a coalition of fifteen engineering schools that sponsor students to work in Japanese industry and take part in intensive language lessons following graduation. Howard also contributed to engineering exchange programs in European countries and with Asian, South American, Pacific Rim, and Australian institutions.

For his pioneering efforts in inclusive engineering education, Howard was recognized with the American Society for Engineering Education's Vincent Bendix Minorities in Engineering Award. He was also awarded the Palmes Académniques by the French government for his efforts in expanding exchange programs with French engineering schools. Howard received an honorary Ph.D. from Moscow State University in 2006.

During Howard’s time as associate dean, he introduced one of the first computer-based degree evaluation and advising systems in the U.S. 

Howard was known for his many colorful quips, known as "Wakelandisms," such as: “Don’t be a braggart but never fail to mention the University of Illinois when you can. Regardless of how we rank nationally, we are one of the great international schools. We are just as good as Harvard or Berkeley. Be very proud of your university, and don’t hesitate to mention that U. of I. is your alma mater.”

Howard was born July 22, 1927, in Minonk, Illinois. He lived in several Illinois towns during his elementary and high school years including Minonk, Toluca, Blandinsville, Farmersville, Divernon, and Troy. Howard joined the Navy in 1945 and served as a Petty Officer.

He was preceded in death by his first wife Betty Wakeland, his parents Fred and Florence Wakeland, sister Lucille, and three brothers Steven (at age 1), John, and Raymond. He is survived by his wife Joyce Wakeland; his sister Clare; his children Lezlie, Craig, Todd, and Marta; his step-daughter Rebecca; his step-son Brett; twelve grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren