Archive for July, 2011


Brendan Kehoe: Widener Student Authored One of the First Major Books on Using the Internet

July 25, 2011

Brendan Kehoe, 40, a Widener computer science student in the early nineties who authored the book Zen and the Art of the Internet: A Beginner’s Guide, died of leukemia in his native Ireland last week.  Dr. Bob Neveln, an associate professor of computer science and mathematics, recalled Kehoe as one of the brightest students and best programmers the university has ever seen.

The book, part of which was written while he was a student at Widener, was a very early and well-known guide to the Internet.  Kehoe blogged in 2005 about his time at Widener working on the book (he left the university in 1992), and the loss of his Widener e-mail address 13 years after his departure.

Sven Heinicke, a 1993 computer science graduate of Widener who is now a senior software developer at Princeton University, shared this photo of his good friend Kehoe (on the left) at his home over winter break when they were in school at Widener together.


R. Heberton “Heb” Butler: A Loyal Pennsylvania Military College Alumnus and Widener Supporter

July 20, 2011

1949 class picture

Tom Brokaw called them “The Greatest Generation,” those men and women who struggled through the Great Depression, served their country in World War II, and went home to build a stronger, better nation. Robert Heberton “Heb” Butler was one of that generation’s finest examples.

Butler, a 1949 graduate of Pennsylvania Military College and one of the first wave of veterans to earn their degrees on the GI Bill, died on July 18. He was 87.

Heb, as he was known to his friends, was a regular at Widener University events. From Alumni Weekend to Veteran’s Day ceremonies, Heb and his good friend Big Fred Shahadi were always ready with a smile and a story.

Not only did Heb attend events, he helped organize them, and he served the university in so many other capacities. He served as president of the Widener-PMC Alumni Association from 1987 to 1990, and during that time represented the association on the Widener Board of Trustees. He also served as a class reunion volunteer, chairman of the President’s Council’s Bullock Society Committee, and a member of the PMC Museum Committee. In 1995, Heb received the Alumni Service Award from the university, and received a Lifetime Volunteer Award in 2008.


During World War II, Heb helped supply fuel to General Patton’s troops, and he celebrated victory over Nazi Germany with the throng of revelers on the Champs Elysees in Paris on V-E Day in My 1945. A year later, he was home in Swarthmore lugging a 150-pound box of tools for a mechanic.

“I figured there has to be a better way,” Butler told Widener Magazine in 2010. “I really didn’t have a burning desire to go to college when I got out of high school. We were working on coming out of the Depression, and there wasn’t a lot of money in the household. College really wasn’t talked about.”

The GI Bill gave Heb the opportunity to attend PMC, and Heb returned that contribution to his community and to Widener in more ways than can be measured. We are better nation and university because of him.

–Dan Hanson ’97, Director of Public Relations


The Changing Face of Widener’s Campus

July 14, 2011

With only six weeks until the fall semester begins, major construction projects on Widener’s campus are entering the final stages and are on track for completion before students and faculty return for classes on Aug. 29.  Most noticeable will the be the new academic building that will house the School of Nursing and the Oskin Leadership Institute, and the enhancements to 14th Street between Walnut Street and Melrose Avenue.  The improved streetscape will have a roundabout near the entrance to University Center. The new building will host a grand opening on Nov. 4.   Stay tuned for more information.

Photograph by Khalil Williams, a rising senior at the Science and Discovery High School in Chester who is working as an intern with the university’s Advancement team.


Widener Dean’s Connection to Space Shuttle

July 7, 2011

Widener School of Engineering Dean Fred Akl will be like millions nationwide who watch the landmark final flight of the space shuttle very closely.

But unlike most, Akl has a deep connection to NASA’s space shuttle program.  He worked as a faculty fellow and consultant for NASA over ten summers, sharing his expertise as a structural engineer specializing in vibration control.  A major project he aided was the testing and preparation for docking the space shuttles with the Mir, a Russian space station.  Akl was on site at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for testing flights and the successful mission in June 1995 when the Atlantis – the shuttle making the last flight – docked for the first time with the Mir.

“I was sitting in a giant conference room with many U.S. engineers,” he said.  “On the other side of the globe the Russian engineers were sitting in their control room with the translation going back and forth.  Sitting in that control room you could just feel the tense environment – everyone was hoping for the best but prepared to take care of any kind of unfortunate event that may occur.”

To read the complete story, click here to visit the Widener School of Engineering web page.  You also can watch the video below featuring Akl discussing his experience.