January 21, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 8

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    Philip Hovda (Ph.D. ’71), a former Dean of Students at the School of Social Service Administration, died Dec. 7, 1998, following a stroke at his home in Green Valley, Ariz. He was 70.

    Hovda served as a member of the SSA faculty for 30 years, joining in 1964 as Field Work Assistant Professor, later acting as Director of Field Work and retiring as Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer in 1994.

    Hovda was well-known to and much loved by numerous SSA students. “I have been struck by the number of alumni who have told me that Phil profoundly changed their lives,” said Edward Lawlor, Dean of the SSA. “He was a good friend to many of us. He was a person with a mischievous sense of humor, exceptional judgment about how to handle difficult circumstances and a deep commitment to students. He exemplified the values of the school and the field.”

    Prior to his work in the SSA, Hovda was employed as a caseworker with Hospitality House Agency, the Hennepin County Court Services, the Minnesota Department of Public Welfare and the Minnesota Residential Treatment Center for Children. In 1975, he was named Social Worker of the Year by the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

    Born Jan. 25, 1928, in Sumner, Ill., Hovda received a B.A. in June 1954 from Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn., a M.S.W. in 1957 from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. from the SSA in 1971.

    Hovda is survived by his wife, Judith Hanson Ramseyer (A.M. ’66, Ph.D. ’86), a son and four daughters.

    A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, in the SSA Library, 969 E. 60th St.

    Walter Wild, Senior Research Associate in Astronomy & Astrophysics at Chicago, died Monday, Jan. 11, while attending a lecture at the University. According to colleagues, he collapsed and died before paramedics could reach him. He was 44.

    Wild was one of the world’s experts on the mathematics of adaptive optics, a technique that allows ground-based telescopes to have the same resolution as telescopes in space.

    During the last 10 years, Wild had developed the software package now universally used by the military and astronomical communities to control their adaptive optics systems.

    Wild was an enthusiastic polymath who wrote papers not only on all aspects of adaptive optics, but also on subjects ranging from reformulations of general relativity equations to attacks on pseudoscientists. A lecturer as well, Wild delivered the Compton Lecture Series “Imaging Science” at the University’s Enrico Fermi Institute last year. Long after the lectures were formally over, Wild would talk to people who had attended the series, explaining new things and patiently answering their questions.

    Wild was keenly interested in fostering amateur astronomy and spent much of 1998 working with a team of amateurs to improve the 41-inch telescope at the University’s Yerkes Observatory.

    Born on the southwest side of Chicago in 1954, Wild was the only son of Walter and Helen Wild. His mother was interested in stars and encouraged her son’s interest in science and astronomy.

    Wild won a scholarship to the Illinois Institute of Technology to obtain his first degree and later earned a Ph.D. in optical sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson. After working in industry, he moved to the Phillips Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M., to help develop the then highly classified military program in adaptive optics. He moved to Chicago in 1991 to work with Edward Kibblewhite, Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, in developing adaptive optics for astronomy.

    He was responsible for developing the control algorithms that formed the brains of the University’s adaptive optics system, and the software is now used on systems worldwide.

    Surviving Wild are his wife, Krystina, and a son, Matthew James.