In so many ways, Purdue alumnus Arthur Levin (CE'39) has always kept his eye on the future. His innovative vision is evident in the thousands of buildings he designed over the span of his long distinguished career. If you’ve ever seen a building hanging off the hills in southern California, chances are it is an Arthur Levin design or was inspired by his work. In fact, Levin literally wrote the book on hillside building, design and construction.
Now, Levin, at 94, is focusing his eye on a new horizon — building toward a future for Purdue students by his own design.
Proud of his Purdue degree and the doors it has opened, Levin established the Isidore and Kate Levin Scholarship, and the Dorothy Levin Scholarship, in honor of loved ones who were as interested in education as he was — and is.
“Believing Purdue is a great school and that education is invaluable for the individual and the country, I could not think of a better place to invest for the future than to start, and continue to fund, scholarships at Purdue University,” Levin says.
And he adds: "Education is of prime importance and I wish every capable student could have the opportunity to pursue his or her individual goals."
Education has always been at the forefront of Arthur Levin’s thinking and engineering was central to his success, but he initially felt called to teach math. “This was during the Great Depression, and math teachers were not in demand,” Levin recalls.
Although today his degree reads Civil Engineering, Levin graduated in 1939 with a degree in Public Service Engineering (BS PSE). "There were 20 of us in the course, created by the dean of Engineering, that was supposed to create a group of city managers," he noted.
Following graduation, Levin got a job close to his Gary, Ind. home, working as a mechanical engineer in Chicago and enrolling at the University of Chicago to pursue a master’s in mathematics. In 1942, however, he was called into the service in World War II and never got the chance to finish his advanced degree.
Equipped with an officer commission from Purdue, Levin was stationed in Sioux Falls, SD, at an Army training facility for radio operators. He was part of the team who taught operators about the electricity, radio and equipment to be used in the bombers.
After his military service, which extended from WWII into the Korean conflict, he began work as a design engineer in construction and started his own firm, A. Levin, Inc., in Los Angeles, Calif. Working as a structural design engineer for most of his career allowed Levin to apply his Purdue degree to design the several thousand buildings that decorate the California hillsides.
Levin retired in 1988, but remains active in his community. To underscore his belief in the power of education — at 94 — Levin teaches computers at the Hollywood Senior Multipurpose Center. Furthermore, as he has for the past ten years, he completes tax returns – free of charge – for the senior citizens at that same center. Levin continues to live in Los Angeles in the same home he has for the last 50 years, and he wears his Purdue pride in every aspect of his life.
Editor's note: After the inaugural issue of the e-newsletter Launching Tomorrow’s Leaders in September of this year, our first readers’ response came from none other than Purdue alumnus Arthur Levin — via his iPad. In his words and by his deeds, he continues to express how invaluable higher education is and how scholarships play a critical role in providing accessibility to that education.