Stephen J. Lavin

1943 - 2011

Stephen J. Lavin, Professor of Geography at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), died May 3, 2011 at the age of 68 following a year-long battle with cancer.

Lavin was born February 1, 1943 in Buffalo, New York. Following service in the U.S. Navy, Lavin earned a B.S. in Geography at the University of Buffalo in 1969, an M.S. at Montana State University in 1971 and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1979. He taught four years at Dartmouth College before joining the Department of Geography at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1981. During his three decades at UNL he mentored more than 40 graduate students, served as Department Chair for five years, and was Chair of the Geography Graduate Committee for nearly 20 years.

A specialist in cartography, Lavin was well known for his research on map design, cartographic communication and computer cartography. His published work received a number of awards including, for example, the British Cartographic Society’s Best Article Award for 1988 for his research with Randall Cerveny on Unit-Vector Density Mapping, published in The Cartographic Journal.

During the last decade, Lavin devoted much of his time to working with his close colleague Clark Archer on production of atlases. These included The Atlas of American Politics: 1960-2000 and The Historical Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections 1788-2004. The latter was a Best Reference List selection by the Library Journal and was chosen as the Best Single Volume Reference in Humanities and Social Sciences for 2006 by the Association of American Publishers, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division. In total, Lavin designed and prepared well over 1,000 maps for these books.

Lavin’s two final projects, published this summer, serve as a fitting culmination to his career. In May, the University of Nebraska Press published his Atlas of the Great Plains, a volume containing over 300 maps within its 336 pages. Shortly thereafter, Rowman and Littlefield issued the Atlas of the 2008 Elections, on which Lavin served as chief cartographer and co-editor with Archer and others.

In honor of Lavin’s lifetime achievements in cartography, his students and colleagues will sponsor a special session at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the North American Cartographic Information Society.

Stephen J. Lavin (Necrology). 2011. AAG Newsletter 46(7): 20.2011