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Nov. 16, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 6

James Skehan, SJ

Geologists Honor Fr. Skehan

The American Institute of Professional Geologists has presented Prof. Emeritus James Skehan, SJ (Geology and Geophysics), with the 2005 Ben H. Parker Memorial Medal, honoring individuals with long records of distinguished and outstanding service in the field of geology.

Fr. Skehan "continues to set high standards for knowledge and ethical behavior for our profession," said institute representative Richard Sherman.

Receiving the award at the institute's annual meeting on Oct. 10 in Lexington, Ky., Fr. Skehan said he could not have hoped for greater job satisfaction than he enjoyed at Boston College, where he founded the Department of Geology in 1956 and later merged it with the graduate Department of Geophysics.

"My life has been an adventure, thanks to stimulating friendships with geologists in both applied fields and in basic research and with those having a rich sense of fun and humor," said Fr. Skehan.

Over the course of Fr. Skehan's long and distinguished career, he has said the first Mass on the volcanic island Surtsey soon after it rose from the North Atlantic and has had a half-billion-year-old genus of trilobite named in his honor. He was instrumental in building the reputation of BC's Weston Observatory, which he directed from 1973 to 1993 [see page 1 for story on Weston's 75th anniversary].

An avid outdoorsman, Fr. Skehan helped cut down some of the trees to make room for the observatory's present site. He still chops wood and clears brush today, as evidenced by the bundle of branches and hatchets stacked in the back of his mini-van.

"We have fairly extensive grounds out in Weston and there's an awful lot of dead wood out there, so I just take my exercise that way most every day."

-Greg Frost

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