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MN GIS/LIS Lifetime Achievement Award Winner - Robert O. Bixby
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MN GIS/LIS Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Robert O. Bixby (2003)

Bob led the effort to establish and develop the Geographic Information Sciences (GIS) and Land Survey Programs at St. Cloud State University (SCSU). At the time they were instituted they were the first programs of their type that offered a post-secondary degree in the state. The Land Survey Program remains the only of its kind in the State today. Bob along with Dr. Ben Richason founded and directed the Spatial Analysis Research Center (SARC) at SCSU. SARC serves as place for communities and organizations to obtain low-cost GIS services and training as well as place for students to gain hands on GIS expertise. Bob initiated and served as faculty advisor the GIS Club, Gamma Theta Upsilon (a Geography Honor Society), and the Veterans Club at SCSU.

Even after he became a full-time professor at the college Bob made sure he applied what he taught and continued to work with communities to help them understand and plan for community based growth. He spent time working with the South Two Rivers Watershed District, the City of Rockville, Holdingford Township, and others using GIS as tool to help them better plan and manage their activities and responsibilities.

Most of all Bob loved teaching. He shared his knowledge through his experiences and challenged others to learn and participate by getting them involved in his projects and helping them create experiences that would remain with them forever. Countless students gained their hands-on GIS experience working on projects Bob set up with communities and agencies in the region. Dr. Bixby consistently encouraged his students to achieve more of their potential. Thanks to that encouragement, a very high percentage of those students now follow a career in GIS. Bob worked with private organizations and government agencies to help students find internships and positions in the field of GIS and Surveying. A great many alumni of SCSU can trace their current success to the inspiration they received from Dr. Bixby.

Bob encouraged participation in professional GIS organizations and many of his students carry that spirit of volunteerism as part of their career today. He was deeply involved in the GIS organizations himself. He was an early proponent of and helped organize and set direction for the GIS/LIS Consortium and served in many positions over the years. He spent several terms as a Board member on the Governor’s Council for Geographic Information. Now his former students are following him by participating in those same organizations as well.

Bob was one of the true founders and leaders of the science in the state. He not only helped push the movement forward but he instilled his passion to move the science forward in others who will now pick up where he left off. Bob is gone but through his efforts and students his teachings live on forever… It is the gift of the teacher.

Bob's Lifetime Achievement Award plaque reads: " Robert O. Bixby, PhD, Energetic GIS/LIS Teacher; Champion of Applied GIS/LIS ".

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