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Archive for Friday, May 12, 1995

ENGINEERING STUDENT GETS DIPLOMA AFTER DEATH

May 12, 1995

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A standout student in engineering and physics will be awarded a posthumous degree during commencement activities.

Those who knew him say Hermann Lucke was something special -- a one-of-a-kind student who made a difference.

Lucke never had a chance to complete his education or fulfill his dream of earning an advanced degree. He died in January in a two-car accident while visiting family in Santiago, Chile.

But his academic achievements at Kansas University won't go unnoticed.

During commencement activities this weekend, the School of Engineering and the Department of Physics and Astronomy will posthumously award Lucke a dual degree in engineering physics and physics. Both degrees will be with distinction, an honor afforded high-ranking graduates.

For Annie Lucke, Hermann's mother, the conferring of degrees and recognition given her son represent a kind of closure for Hermann's life.

"It means a lot," Lucke said during a recent telephone interview from her home in Kansas City, Mo. "Hermann always worked so much in this (his studies). That was one of the goals that he had. He was planning to go to Harvard to get a Ph.D. . ... It's really very important emotionally. It is important that they not forget him."

Lucke said she and the rest of her family will be in Lawrence on Sunday to attend the School of Engineering's Recognition Ceremony in Allen Fieldhouse. During that ceremony the school's graduates will receive a memento from the school. The Lucke family will receive Hermann's.

On May 7 the Luckes attended the Department of Physics and Astronomy honors banquet where Hermann was recognized as an outstanding student.

Florence Boldridge, KU's director of minority engineering programs, and Barbara Anthony-Twarog, a professor of physics and astronomy, knew Hermann through his studies at KU.

"He was a very naturally gifted student," Anthony-Twarog said. "Very, very bright. I think he would have done well in competition for fellowships. He was very well-liked by his friends. He was very committed to his studies. ... He really enjoyed physics. He really wanted to understand as much as was possible for him to learn."

Boldridge said she first met Hermann in the summer of 1990 when he came to KU as part of an early-entry program. She said one thing made him stand out even then.

"Hermann definitely knew before he came to us he would go on and get a master's (degree) and probably a doctorate,'' Boldridge said. "... This kid knew from day one this was what he was going to do. There was no doubt in his mind he was going into research, possibly even getting a doctorate."

To Boldridge, the awarding of the posthumous degrees is a fitting tribute to a student who was so caught up in education.

"I can't think of any greater tribute that we can give," she said. "I think it would mean so much, so very, very much (to Hermann). ... To know that we felt so much of him and his accomplishments in our school of engineering."

Tom Hutton, KU director of university relations, said Lucke was not the first student awarded a posthumous degree at KU. But the practice is uncommon.

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