History of the School of Meteorology
The fourth decade of meteorology at OU began with the move to Sarkeys Energy Center in May 1991. There were two major developments during the early 1990s. The first was Ken Crawford.s leadership in creating the Oklahoma Mesonet, a premier meteorological network comprising some 115 stations. In addition, Crawford restructured the Oklahoma Climatological Survey to provide more effective climatological service to the people of Oklahoma. The second was Peter Lamb.s leadership in expanding the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies and developing the Southern Great Plains Cloud and Radiation Testbed, one of three world-wide sites in the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Yoshi Sasaki retired in 1993 after 33 years at OU and Doug Lilly retired in 1995. Sasaki and Lilly were both George Lynn Cross research professors and Lilly occupied the Robert E. Lowry Chair, the first endowed chair dedicated to meteorology in the United States. The 35th Anniversary was held in December 1995 and especially honored the work of those two great professors.
New University-wide general education requirements were phased in during the early 1990s and the School of Meteorology undergraduate curriculum was appropriately adjusted. A new required course, the senior Capstone course, was taught for the first time in spring semester of 1994. Two areas of concentration, one with the College of Business and another with Computer Science, allowed meteorology students to trade 12 hours of science and math electives for 12 hours in another area of concentration. In addition, a minor option in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Hydrologic Sciences were established. At the graduate level, Jeff Kimpel developed a Master of Professional Meteorology program, a degree designed to provide graduate students with the skills needed by employers engaged in weather related business.
Eleven new faculty were hired in the 1990s, namely, Jerry Straka, Peter Lamb, Susan Postawko, Bob Crane, Mike Richman, Josh Wurman, Al Shapiro, Ming Xue, and Evgeni Fedorovich, Eugenia Kalnay, who was the second holder of the Lowry chair holder, and John Snow, who became Dean of the College of Geosciences and Director of Weather Center Programs. During the 1990s, the first faculty endowed positions were established including the Robert E. Lowry Chair, the American Airlines Professorship, the Williams Companies Chair, and the Weathernews Inc. Chair. Supercomputing capability was greatly expanded through the introduction of the new Cray and Hitachi supercomputers. Professor Doug Lilly became the first resident of Oklahoma to be selected for membership in the National Academy of Sciences.
In 1996, serious discussion began with respect to the .Norman Consolidation,. a community effort to bring all state and federal meteorology groups in the Norman area under one roof. OU President David Boren was a strong advocate of the consolidation effort and by the end of the decade, President Boren had obtained initial funding for a facility which would become the National Weather Center at the intersection of State Highway 9 and Jenkins Street. At the end of the fourth decade the School of Meteorology had 305 undergraduate students, 68 graduate students, and 18 faculty members.