KALAMAZOO—A husband and wife couple from Western Michigan University is the first duo to jointly receive a McMicken College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Cincinnati.
Dr. William B. Harrison III, professor emeritus of geosciences and founder and curator of WMU's Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education, and Linda K. Harrison, the repository's administrator, received a 2012 McMicken Award earlier this year.
The two were honored May 18 for their work at the repository, which is part of WMU's Department of Geosciences, as well as for their assistance in helping the University of Latvia modernize its geology department.
The repository now houses Michigan's largest archive of subsurface geological samples and data. It is the product of 30 years of effort by William and 20 years by Linda, who rescued most of the samples from at-risk locations, where they would have been damaged or lost due to poor storage conditions or imminent threat of destruction.
Working with Michigan industries, governmental agencies and education institutions, the Harrisons have brought these vast collections together in one place, making them accessible for use both online and on site. They often say the samples represent raw data that will be used in the future to answer questions that can't even be imagined today.
Latvia geology department
The Harrisons were also honored for assisting the geology department at the University of Latvia in Riga. Their assistance helped the university to rapidly modernize as Latvia emerged from the breakup of the former Soviet Union.
The couple delivered equipment and helped secure funding for the department's faculty. In addition, William gave a series of lectures that resulted in his receiving an honorary doctorate from the university.