Luther College to present Tom Harkin and Luther grad Eugene Takle with honorary degrees at commencement

Luther College will present Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and Eugene Takle, director of the Climate Science Program and professor of atmospheric science and agricultural meteorology at Iowa State University, with honorary degrees at Luther's Commencement ceremony Sunday, May 25, in the Carlson Stadium on the Luther campus.

Harkin will also serve as the Commencement speaker at the ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. in Carlson Stadium. Tickets are required for admission.

Harkin has represented Iowa in Congress for nearly 40 years. First winning election to the U.S. House in 1974, he represented Iowa's Fifth Congressional District for 10 years. In 1984, Harkin challenged an incumbent senator and won. Iowans returned him to the Senate in 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2008.

Since arriving to Congress, Harkin has championed critical legislation that seeks to improve the lives and protect the rights of American citizens.

Harkin's signature legislative achievement, the Americans with Disabilities Act, legislated changes to provide workplace accommodations for people with disabilities and changed the landscape of America by requiring buildings and transportation to be wheelchair accessible.

Harkin graduated from Iowa State University on a Navy ROTC scholarship, then served as a jet pilot in the Navy for five years and continued to fly in the Naval Reserves for nearly two decades. He then earned a law degree from Catholic University of America Law School.

Takle holds a bachelor's degree from Luther College, class of 1966, and a doctoral degree from Iowa State University. He joined the ISU faculty in 1971 in the geological and atmospheric sciences, and agronomy departments and currently directs the ISU Climate Science Program.

He holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State and has held the position as Pioneer Hi-Bred Professor of Agronomy since 2013. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and currently serves as Trustee of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research as well as coordinating lead co-author on the agriculture chapter of the 2014 US National Climate Assessment.

Takle has published research on climate change for more than 20 years, primarily in the area of regional climate change and impacts of climate on the Midwest. Over the past four years, his research team has expanded its focus to include wind farm efficiency and the interactions of wind turbines with agricultural crops. He has some 130 peer-reviewed publications.