In memoriam: Leonard Levine

Len Levine early photo
Len Levine with an experimental microwave amplifier for use on the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line (Sperry Corp, c. 1960)

Leonard (“Len”) Levine, professor emeritus, electrical engineering and computer science, passed away peacefully on May 25 at the age of 89.

Levine’s contributions to UWM and its College of Engineering & Applied Science were enormous during his more than 30 years of service to the institution. He is remembered by colleagues and former students not only for his key roles in helping UWM reconfigure to meet the rapidly changing needs of the Milwaukee community—he was instrumental in developing its now thriving Computer Science program—but for his extraordinary humor and dedication to students.

Len Levine, former student Ken Alix and Brett Peters, dean, UWM College of Engineering & Applied Science

“I will always remain grateful for his guidance and the inspiring example he set as an educator,” said Ken Alix, ’78 MS Electrical Engineering. (Alix retired from Intel Corporation, where for 23 years he worked as a senior process integration engineer in semiconductor manufacturing and technology transfer.)  In 2019, Alix created the Dr. Leonard Levine Scholarship in honor of his college advisor.

One of first people to know computer language and its potential impact on work

Levine grew up in New York City and received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Queens College and PhD in physics from Syracuse University. In a ballroom dancing class, he met Marilyn (1933 – 2010), the love of his life, knowing after just one dance that he would marry her.

After graduation, he was employed by Sperry Gyroscope and Honeywell Aerospace, outside of Minneapolis, where he worked on vacuum science and on one of the world’s first computers, a machine that nearly filled an entire room. He was one of the early people to use programming languages in research and to realize their potential impact on science, engineering, and society.

These experiences made Levine a powerful asset to UWM when he came to campus in the late ’60s, a time during which the young university was developing its engineering and computer science programs.

Service to students and UWM was “of the highest order”

At UWM, Levine helped develop and grow the Computer Science program and became an admired teacher and mentor to the many TA’s he supervised.

For many years, he served as the director of the university’s Computer Center and oversaw the development of the emerging computing resources for the entire campus.

He was also active in numerous campuswide committees and was a member of the Faculty Senate.

“Across campus, Len was a highly visible member of the College of Engineering & Applied Science, and his contributions were much valued,” said K Vairavan, professor emeritus, electrical engineering and computer science. “His service to the students and institution was of the highest order. He was a great colleague and will be deeply missed by those of us who had the pleasure to work with him and call him a friend.” 

Service continued after retirement 

Even after he retired in December of 1999, Levine continued to support those who wanted to learn.

In the community, he ran a weekly workshop for older adults at the Shorewood Senior Resource Center called If it Goes Beep, a free discussion on computers, digital cameras, telephones other technological devices.

At UWM, his support took the form of student scholarships designed to elevate the community by providing students with opportunities and affording them more study time. 

He and his wife, Marilyn Levine (’82 PhD Urban Education), created two scholarships for undergraduates. 

After Marilyn passed away, Levine established the Levine Science Fellowship Fund for graduate students.  

When asked why he created scholarship funds, Len said he was motivated by rising tuition costs and the fact that college students were graduating with debt. During his own undergraduate years, he recalled, he was able to devote himself to his education, studying at the counter of his family’s candy store in New York City.

“My goal is to create the time a student needs to devote to their studies and get the best education they can,” he said at the time.

If you would like to contribute to the Dr. Leonard Levine Scholarship for students in computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering at UWM, please give at or contact Jean Opitz at or 414-229-5603.