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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

A 'Walking History of the Department' Retires

Published on April 14th, 2009 by Michelle Ward

Norm opens presents from EECS faculty and staff.

Norm Lawrence hung up his tool belt in February after more than 30 years at KU. Initially hired as an electrician, Norm assisted with numerous EE power courses. He notes the Department did not have a single computer, and he had a full head of jet black hair when he started. When the Department shifted to electronics, the affable jack-of-all-trades adjusted his skill set.He became a certified Dell technician and was responsible for nearly 500 EECS computers.

Norm is a "walking history of the Department," says Tom Colwell, EECS electronics technologist. Colwell points out that the last line of Norm's job description was to fulfill the needs of the Department. There was no job too small for Norm. He would stop and tighten a screw on a wobbly chair or remove a problem nail from under the desk. In the weeks before his retirement, one often heard the same question around the EECS offices. "Who is going to take care of this when Norm leaves?"

He did these little things in addition to helping scores of students and faculty with projects.

"He was the person who had the biggest impact on my day-to-day activities," said EECS Chair Glenn Prescott, who taught a senior design course for a number of years. Prescott marks the 10th Chair Norm worked for at KU.

Faculty and staff gathered on March 5 to honor Norm's career and wish him well. During the retirement party, Prescott honored Norm's mother, Rosemary. Each week Norm would bring cookies, pEECS faculty and staff thank Norm for his 30 years of service.ound cake or some other baked good his mom made for the staff. EECS Lab Director Aaron Blanchard then presented Norm with a GPS navigation system and other presents from faculty and staff. Blanchard had preprogrammed the system with important addresses including the route from Norm's house to his mother's house to the Department office.

"I'm one of the lucky ones who got up every day and wanted to come in to work," Norm said.