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Home arrow News arrow Business arrow Bill Huxhold and Barry Wellar to be Inducted into URISA's GIS Hall of Fame     

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Bill Huxhold and Barry Wellar to be Inducted into URISA's GIS Hall of Fame PDF Print E-mail
Written by URISA   
31 August 2011


August 31, 2011 (Des Plaines, IL) - The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) established the GIS Hall of Fame in 2005 to recognize and honor the most esteemed leaders of the geospatial community. To be considered for the GIS Hall of Fame, an individual’s or an organization’s record of contribution to the advancement of the industry demonstrates creative thinking and actions, vision and innovation, inspiring leadership, perseverance, and community mindedness. In addition, nominees must serve as a role model for those who follow. URISA Hall of Fame Laureates are individuals or organizations whose pioneering work has moved the geospatial industry in a better, stronger direction. The first class of inductees included Edgar Horwood, Ian McHarg, Roger Tomlinson, Jack Dangermond, Nancy Tosta, and the Harvard Lab. Gary Hunter was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006 and both Don Cooke and Michael Goodchild joined him the following year, in 2007. Will Craig and Carl Reed were honored in 2009 and C. Dana Tomlin followed last year.

William Huxhold and Barry Wellar will join this esteemed group during URISA’s 49th Annual Conference in Indianapolis in November.

Bill Huxhold (Hux) is a triple threat in GIS.  He has been an innovative leader in government, academia, and the GIS profession.  Few others have shown this versatility and certainly not at his high level of achievement.

He led the City of Milwaukee’s effort to establish one of the nation’s first GIS as Project Director of the City’s Policy Development Information System (1975-87).  His genius was writing specifications that required an interface between the City’s operational databases with computer-aided mapping software to create a GIS.  Other cities had computer-aided mapping, but no direct connection to their operational data.  He believed in a pyramid of good decisions based on data from the operations of local government.  He argued that good management decisions are based on a synthesis of operational data and good policy decisions are based on a synthesis of management data; GIS is critical at each level in the three-layered pyramid.  Milwaukee received an Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) award for Huxhold’s Municipal Automated Geographic Information System in 1981, the first year that award was given.  His early work was copied by cities across the nation and the concepts continue to be respected and copied.

Huxhold published his popular An Introduction to Urban Geographic Information Systems in 1991, one of the first GIS textbooks and the best one for urban GIS.  It was his first step into academia and he joined the faculty of Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee that same year.  Other books followed including Managing Geographic Information Systems Projects (1995 with Allan Levinson) and ArcGIS and the Digital City (2002 with Fowler and Parr).  His leadership was key in extracting from a divided committee in Chicago the nine principles for success in GIS Guidelines for Assessors (URISA and IAAO 1992) that educate and illuminate still.  His research has produced dozens of articles and book chapters.  He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses while administering the GIS Certificate program that he created in 1991.  He chairs the GIS Council that steers the campus-wide education, research, and service efforts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He also chairs the Urban Planning department.

Huxhold’s contributions to the GIS profession have been outstanding, too.  He has served as president of two professional organizations: URISA (Urban and Regional Information Systems Association, 1984-85) and UCGIS (University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, 2000).  He developed model job classifications that informed URISA’s 1st Salary Survey and helped give coherence to the field.  Most notably, he led the effort to certify GIS professionals, now institutionalized as the GIS Certification Institute, now certifying nearly 5,000 GIS Professionals across 50 states and 25 countries.  He argued that this was the missing piece in making GIS a recognized profession; we had the specialized training, common language, and even culture and lore, but lacked licensing or certification.  The GIS Certification Institute is supported by the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), the University Consortium of Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), and the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA).

Few individuals are more deserving of this honor than Dr. Barry Wellar. His nearly 50 years of active and sustained work in the geographic information system (GIS) and related fields are filled with accomplishments and contributions to the industry and the community of GIS technology users. His roles as a researcher, teacher, GIS practitioner and manager, and consultant have focused on practical applications of GIS and other information technologies to problems and challenges faced by public agencies and private sector companies.  His areas of expertise span a wide range of technical, organizational, methodological, and discipline-specific areas for applying GIS and IT.  He is an expert in many GIS application areas with a particular focus on urban planning, transportation, sustainable land development, and public sector policy, with more than 350 documents and presentations on GIS and IT among his published works. And, as demonstrated at the 2009 and 2010 URISA conferences, his applied research on GIS and Interdependent infrastructures, and GIS and standard of care practices, shows that he continues to play a leading role as an important innovator in the GIS field.

His professional milestones and accomplishments are too numerous to mention in full, but a few highlights are identified below:

  • Bachelor’s  degrees (1964, 1965 (Hon.) in Economics, Commerce, and Geography from Queen’s University
  • Master of Science (1967) and PhD (1969) in Geography from Northwestern University
  • Academic teaching and research positions at University of Kansas and University of Ottawa
  • Senior Research Officer, Director, and Senior Policy Advisor, Ministry of State for Urban Affairs, Government of Canada
  • Numerous special project and consulting assignments to state, provincial, and federal government agencies in Canada, the USA, and foreign governments, as well as to international organizations (e.g., OECD, UNDP, CAP)
  • Qualified as an expert witness for civil actions involving pedestrians’ safety, and transportation and planning issues
  • Formation and position as Principal of Wellar Consulting, Inc.  (2005), and President, Information Research Board (2010)

His work in the GIS field has been complemented by his active involvement and leadership in professional associations and the contribution of enormous amounts of time and energy that has supported and improved those organizations, supported the work of its members, and made significant positive impacts on the way in which GIS and other information technology tools and practices are applied to important decision-making issues and situations. Some milestones of his professional association activities and leadership roles are summarized as follows:

  • Continuous membership in URISA since 1967, including participation in annual conferences, special programs and workshops, and numerous committee assignments
  • URISA Board Member, 1972-76
  • URISA President, 1977-78
  • Membership, active participation, and leadership roles in the Association of American Geographers (AAG), Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG), American Planning Association (APA), Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI), Regional Science Association (RSA), and Data for Development International Association
  • Full membership in Canadian Institute of Planners (MCIP)
  • Distinguished Research Fellow, Transport Action Canada
  • Policy and Research Advisor, Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods (Ontario)
  • Distinguished Geomatics Scientist, Lab for Applied Geomatics and Geographic Information Systems Science, University of Ottawa
  • Multiple awards from these and other organizations for service and leadership, including URISA’s Leadership and Service Award (1979) and Horwood Outstanding Service Award (1985)

Along with Dr. Wellar’s long history of work in the field and his research and professional accomplishments, his role as a teacher and advisor to students should be considered a primary reason for his Hall of Fame induction.  During his academic career of 35 years he has taught hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom have become very accomplished in their fields and cite Dr. Wellar’s instruction and support as instrumental in their education and professional advancement. He has served as a graduate advisor to many students and in numerous committee and leadership roles to advance the quality of academic programs and their value to students.

Mentioning just three activities to outline the scope of his many accomplishments, he partnered with Bob Aangeenbrug at Kansas in 1969-1972 to create some of the first-ever GIS courses, he later joined with Dan Parr in making URISA’s Introduction to GIS one of the most popular (and most duplicated) GIS workshops offered by any organization, and he recently created a GIS Day Poster Competition program and promotion to recognize faculty and students who make outstanding contributions to the design of GIS-based posters as means to communicate research project results.

Those who know or who have worked with Barry are aware that his style is that of a dedicated scientist: direct, sometimes challenging, but always respectful of differing views, and focused on achieving results. His record speaks for itself in demonstrating how he has used his personal and professional skills for success in delivering benefits to those people, groups, and communities for which he has served.  His interests go beyond the professional sphere as exhibited, in part, by his passion for hockey—not just as a fan but as a player. His personal and professional ethics are superb. He is a devoted husband and father and is active in charitable and community activities that enhance the quality of life for his fellow citizens.

Barry Wellar’s record in the field of geographic information systems is one of passion, inspiration, commitment, and outstanding achievement. Welcome to the GIS Hall of Fame, Dr. Wellar.

For more information about URISA's GIS Hall of Fame, visit http://www.urisa.org/hall_of_fame or contact URISA at 847/824-6300.

 

 
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