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News Archive 2001 - 2010

John H. McElroy, Ph.D., Former Dean of Engineering, Dies

September 21, 2007

Dr. John H. McElroy – engineer, educator, scientist – born June 27, 1936, died of a heart attack in his home in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 14. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and master’s and doctoral degrees from the Catholic University of America.

Dr. McElroy began a long and illustrious career with NASA in 1966 at the Goddard Space Flight Center, where he directed research on laser communication systems, tracking and radiometry, and advanced satellite communications technology. From 1980 to 1982, he was deputy director of Goddard and later served as director of communications and information systems programs at NASA’s Office of Applications. Dr. McElroy continued his government service as the assistant administrator for satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

After leaving NOAA, he joined Hughes Communications as vice president for technology. During this time, Dr. McElroy was also the senior editor of Space Science and Applications, a publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society.

From 1987 to 1996, Dr. McElroy served as dean of the College of Engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington, overseeing a sustained period of growth in both student enrollment and research and teaching facilities. He then served as UT Arlington’s vice provost for research and dean of graduate studies from 1996 to 1997. He then returned to the classroom, teaching electrical and industrial engineering courses until his retirement in May of 2000.

A recognized authority of space sciences, Dr. McElroy was frequently called upon to serve as an advisor on investigatory committees and commissions. He was a member of the Space Studies Board of the National Academies and the Advisory Committee on the Future of U. S. Space Programs and co-authored the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ report “A More Effective Civil Space Program” with co-chair Brent Scowcroft.

Dr. McElroy was recognized by several professional organizations for his technical knowledge and service. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Washington Academy of Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, which honored his development and applications of laser technology to space-based geodesy, atmospheric science and communications. In addition, he was presented with a NASA First Space Shuttle Flight Achievement Award and Medallion, a NASA Apollo Achievement Award and Medallion, a Silver Medallion from the Brazilian Institute for Space Research, a Bronze Medallion from the Soviet Merchant Marine, and the German Space Agency Medallion (for founding and chairing the International Committee on Earth Observation Satellites).

He is survived by Ellie McElroy, his wife for 51 years. His remains will be interred at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City, Nevada.