History of the School of Meteorology
The story of the School of Meteorology begins in the late 1950s. At that time, Walter Saucier and Yoshi Sasaki, both then at Texas A&M, discussed the need for a meteorology program at the University of Oklahoma because of the richness in weather phenomena in Oklahoma. Sasaki had a special interest in mesoscale meteorology research and felt that his skills in variational analysis and numerical weather prediction could be useful in understanding the physics and dynamics of mesoscale features. They made a number of visits to the OU campus, and with support from Professors Robert Fowler of Physics, Cheddy Sliepcevich of Chemical Engineering, Van Henning, director of the OU Research Institute, Sherril Christian of Chemistry, and OU President George Lynn Cross, Saucier and Sasaki moved to Norman in 1960. Saucier began his tenure at OU as Professor while Sasaki began as a Research Scientist. With great success in his research, Sasaki became Professor of Meteorology in 1967.
In 1961, a number of Saucier's and Sasaki's doctoral students also moved to Norman. Among them were Rex Inman, Victor Whitehead, Stanley Barnes, and Samuel Hall, all of whom were appointed as Special Instructors. After 1961, increasing graduate student enrollment brought such students to OU as Eugene Wilkins, Robert Jones, John Lewis, Walter Bach, and Robert Sheets, all of whom became highly successful meteorologists, along with Joe Friday, who later became director of the National Weather Service. In 1963, Eugene Wilkins earned the first Ph.D. in Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.
In 1963, the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the first government laboratory for meteorology, moved to OU's North Base under director Ed Kessler. The working research relationships between the University and the Laboratory established a precedent for government-university collaboration and provided jobs for students.
Originally, the new meteorology program was administered through Engineering Physics and the Civil Engineering and Environmental Science programs. The Department of Meteorology came into existence in 1969 within the College of Engineering and offered BS degrees in both the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences. Beginning in the fall semester of that same year, there was a major change in meteorology faculty with the addition of new faculty members including Professors Duchon, Hall, Holyoke, and Inman. Professor Saucier left to establish a meteorology department at North Carolina State University and Amos Eddy became the new chair of the Department of Meteorology. With the infusion of new faculty came a new direction for the Department of Meteorology and changes were made to existing courses and new courses were added.