Montana State University-Northern Founders Excellence Awards will be presented tonight to Lou Lucke, Wilbur J. Hensler and Roger Barber. The annual awards are given to people who have received outstanding recognition within their own professional fields or contributed to the growth and development of the campus.
The presentations will take place during the Founders' Excellence Dinner in the Student Union Building Dining Room at 7 p.m.
Northern's graduation is Saturday at 10 a.m.
The other local college, Stone Child College at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, will have graduation today at 1 p.m.
Lucke was born on May 21, 1931, in Havre into a family that's played an important part in the city's history. The Lucke Mercantile was one of the first stores in town and was owned by Lou Lucke's grandfather.
Lucke graduated from Northern in 1952 with a two-year diploma in chemistry. He transferred to Bozeman where he earned a bachelor's degree in engineering physics in 1954. In 1976 he completed a second bachelor's degree in earth sciences and geology.
His occupational accomplishments include being a systems engineer for IBM, a programmer for North American Aviation, an executive adviser and senior research engineer for McDonnell Douglas, a director of ITS, and instructor at MSU-Bozeman and MSU-Northern.
A longtime election judge, he has been involved in many civic organization. He joined the Elks Lodge in 1952 and was Exalted Ruler in 2003-04. He has been a member of the Montana Land and Mineral Owners Association since 1987. He was chairman of the board of the Clack Museum Foundation for seven years and chairman of H. Earl Clack Museum board for three years. He chairs the Havre-Hill County Historic Preservation Commission.
He was instrumental in the publication of "Northern Reflections," a history of Northern Montana College and MSU-Northern.
Lucke continues to run a computer consulting company.
Hensler was born in Comertown and graduated from high school there. After graduation, he served in the Army and was located in the South Pacific.
From 1946 to 1948 he attended Northern Montana College. While attending Northern, Wilbur worked in sales in the automotive industry. In 1953 Wilbur got into the propane and fertilizer business in Havre.
Aftering marrying in 1955, Wilbur and his wife, Ila, established the Wagner Tractor Co. in Havre. Together they expanded the business and created Northern Manufacturing, where they designed and built Big Bud tractors.
In 1970, Ila and Wilbur ventured into cattle and ranching in Blaine and Phillips counties. They moved to the Bitterroot Valley in 1974 and purchased land to create subdivisions.
In 1982, Ila and Wilbur bought holdings on the island of Hawaii and leased it for grazing cattle and growing and harvesting Koa wood. The wood was shipped to Singapore where it was made into furniture at the Hensler furniture plant, then shipped back to Hawaii for marketing and distribution. In 1994 the Hawaiian enterprises were sold to a Japanese firm, and the following year the Henslers purchased a farm in Colorado and property in Arizona.
Barber was raised on a wheat farm in central Montana. After his graduation from Denton High School, he went to the University of Montana in Missoula, where he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism. He returned to Missoula two more times and completed a master's degree in business administration and a law degree.
Barber started teaching part time at Northern in 1978 and received a full professorship in 1990. He taught courses in business law, finance, human resource management, ethics and introduction to business.
He held a variety of administrative positions at Northern, including chair of the Business Department, acting dean of the College of Technology, and provost and senior vice chancellor. Barber also chaired several important committees during his years at Northern, including general education, admissions and standards, and two search committees to select a new chancellor. He also organized the planning group for the 75th anniversary celebration of Northern.
Barber and his wife, Mary VanBuskirk, have participated actively in the arts, sports and fund-raising efforts of the institution. Barber appeared in five plays on the Northern stage, "adopted" several Skylight women's basketball team members, took an active role in the development of the We Love Northern Ball, and established two endowed scholarships in honor of his and Mary's parents.
Although Barber has never practiced law, he has a special interest in the legal rights of women. He has been a member of the Women's Law Section of the state Bar for more than 20 years, and assisted that group in writing a speaker's manual on the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Because of that effort, the Women's Law Section gave him its annual award as the Montana citizen who has done the most to advance the legal status of women in the state.
Barber serves as deputy commissioner for academic and student affairs in the state Office of Commissioner of Higher Education, a position he has held since September 2003.