William G. Shepherd, Former U Vice President, Dies
What: Obituary: William G. Shepherd
Contacts: Deane Morrison, University News Service, (612) 624-2346
(09/09/2003) —William G. Shepherd, a University of Minnesota graduate who served his alma mater as electrical engineering professor, department head, associate dean and vice president, died of natural causes Friday, Sept. 5, at Fairview-University Hospital, Minneapolis. He was 92 and lived in University Grove, Falcon Heights, Minn.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Weisman Art Museum, 333 E. River Rd., Minneapolis.
Born in Fort William, Ontario, Shepherd immigrated to Minnesota with his family as a child. He received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering (1933) and a doctorate in physics (1937) from the university and worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City for 10 years. There he and an associate, John R. Pierce, developed a tunable device known as the Pierce-Shepherd tube, which improved the radar capabilities of the United States and its allies during World War II.
Shepherd joined the university faculty as an electrical engineering professor in 1947 and went on to serve as associate dean of the university's Institute of Technology (1954-56) and electrical engineering department head (1956-63). He was director of the Physical Electronics Laboratories, which he established (1949-63), university vice president for academic administration (1963-73) and director of the Space Science Center (1973-79). He retired in 1979. Shepherd Laboratories, an Institute of Technology building built in 1968, is named for him.
After retiring, Shepherd continued to serve the university and his profession. He was a consultant to numerous international commissions and private industries, a member of several Governor's Commissions for Minnesota Industry, and a president of the 105,000-member Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He also served as chair of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.
"My father was always very dedicated to education, and to land-grant institutions in particular," said his son, William, of Vashon, Wash. "Following retirement, he served the 'U' in fund-raising, especially for the Weisman Art Museum."
Among many honors, Shepherd was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the U.S. Navy in 1948 and the Medal of Honor of the National Electronics Conference in 1965. He was Minnesota Engineer of the Year in 1966 and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1969. In 1979 he received the university's Outstanding Achievement Award, the highest award given to alumni.
Shepherd was preceded in death by his wife, Frances Bruce Shepherd. Besides his son William (Lynne), he is survived by his wife, Mary Dunlap Shepherd; daughters Nancy (Denis) Stoddard of Afton, Minn., and Sarah (John) Mantis of Baltimore, Md.; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Memorial are preferred to the charity of the donor's choice.