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Loyola celebrates the life of Bernard Weigman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of computer science, engineering, and physics

December 2, 2013 | By Rita Buettner

Bernard Weigman Loyola University Maryland
Bernard J. Weigman, Jr., Ph.D.

He was a gentleman and a scholar, a teacher and mentor, and a true Renaissance man.

And when Bernard J. Weigman, Jr., Ph.D., passed away Nov. 30, he left behind not just a legacy as a beloved professor and friend, but also a lasting mark on Loyola, where the emeritus professor of computer science, engineering, and physics was instrumental in establishing the computer science and engineering departments.

A 1954 graduate of Loyola who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, Weigman began teaching in Loyola’s math and physics department in 1958. After the physics department became a standalone department in the early 1960s, Weigman instituted a physics-engineering option, which evolved into the engineering degree and then department.

“He had that calm attitude, and at the same time achieved so much,” said Roger Eastman, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science. “Sometimes you have faculty who are laidback, and they don’t challenge themselves, or challenge the institution. Bernie challenged the institution by starting new programs, doing new things, but with a calming influence.”

Through his connections at local technical companies, such as Westinghouse and AAI, Weigman realized there was a need for their employees to learn computer technology. So he started the graduate program in computer studies on Loyola’s Timonium campus and then the Columbia campus. In 1984 computer science became a standalone department.

“He taught literally all of the courses in our department,” said Helene Perry, associate professor emerita of physics. “His specialty originally was optics, but then he got very interested in the new computer technology. When the departments divided into the three, he had appointments in all three.”

Weigman, who was named Loyola’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year in 1987, taught at the University until his retirement in 2004.

“He was tremendous. He was such a popular teacher, and the students all looked up to him as a role model of how you can have a successful career, both academic and in the real world,” said Perry, who also recalled how Weigman helped raise funds to build Maryland Hall. “He kept a good balance, a connection between the academic side of our profession and the applied side. I think back and wonder where he got the time and energy.”

In 1978, under Weigman’s leadership, Loyola established a Master’s of Engineering Science program, which offered engineers three tracks—computer engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science. In 2002 the MES program was restructured and the computer science department became its departmental home.

“Bernie was a rare combination of scholar, excellent teacher, and kind, Christian man,” said Roberta Sabin, Ph.D., professor emerita of computer science. “He had a profound and lasting effect on the computer science department and Loyola. He will be missed.”

When a new award, a Fellow of the Natural and Applied Sciences, was created to be given at Loyola’s Natural Sciences Grand Seminar, the department chairs knew right away who would be the first recipient.

“It was a total no-brainer. Everybody simultaneously said it should go to Bernie Weigman,” said Robert Pond, Ph.D., associate professor of engineering. “He was the kind of person who engaged people. He was a great mentor to students. Everybody just loved him to pieces.”

One of Weigman’s former students, Albert A. Koenig, Ph.D., ’62, spoke of the impact Weigman had on his Loyola experience in a 2012 letter to Loyola magazine.

“I thank Dr. Weigman for his mentorship that helped build my confidence and skills that have allowed me to continue to work actively, even at an advanced age, on challenging energy problems,” Koenig wrote.

Among Weigman’s survivors are his four children who attended Loyola, Jane Weigman Mahon, ’85, Mary Joanne Weigman Stafford, ’83, John P. Weigman, ’89, MES, ’95, and Mark R. Weigman, ’84, MSF ’87.

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