Dr. Keith Levi, Computer Science Professor and Department Chairman
Dr. Keith Levi, professor and chairman of MUM’s Department of Computer Science, earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate from the University of Michigan after receiving a BS in psychology from MUM — and had his pick of job offers following graduation. He took a position at Honeywell in Minneapolis as a senior research scientist, and thrived in the stimulating work atmosphere.
But he was also aware that “something” was missing. It related to what he’d experienced as a student at MUM.
“I worked with many brilliant, well-known scientists,” recalls Dr. Levi. “But often they were caught up in ‘the parts.’ What was missing was that fulfilling wholeness of knowledge that I had experienced at MUM. My professors at MUM — people like David Orme-Johnson and Michael Dilbeck — projected a clarity of mind, an inner peace and a deep level of consciousness. I knew that’s what I wanted, and that was the direction I wanted to go with my life.”
The ‘R2-D2’ Project
Keith grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He learned of the Transcendental Meditation® technique at the age of 18 while at the University of South Dakota, following in the footsteps of his older brother, who had become a meditator the previous year. Finding the practice to his liking, Keith decided to further explore TM by enrolling at MUM in 1975 (then called Maharishi International University, or MIU) to experience its Consciousness-Based℠ education approach. While at MUM he became a TM teacher and even earned a Doctorate of World Peace.
In 1979, he entered graduate school at the University of Michigan, pursuing his interests in mathematical psychology, behavioral decision making, and the modeling of perception and memory. He explored the intersections of mind and technology. “There is a lot of overlap between cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence,” he says. “Psychologists use computational models to understand human information processing, and artificial intelligence researchers use models of human information processing to design intelligent software systems.”
Levi family: Keith and Pam, front row. Back row, far left: son Matt and wife Kristen. Back row center: daughter Heather, then to right, daughter Erin. Far right: Heather’s husband, Ben, plus assorted grandchildren.
At Honeywell, he further pursued these areas in research & development, becoming expert at writing grants and competing for research contracts. On one project, he was principle investigator on a technology that used psychological modeling to try to create a “Star Wars R2-D2-type” computer system to aid pilots. He worked on projects for the U.S. Air Force’s Wright Research and Development Center, the Office of Naval Research, and the United Nations’ Industrial Development Office. Along the way, he published and presented over 50 technical papers.
A Long-Standing Dream Realized
In the midst of all this fascinating work, Dr. Levi and his wife, Pam, had been trying to figure out a way to realize their long-standing dream of moving back to Fairfield, Iowa, home of MUM. In 1990, that dream came true when Dr. Levi accepted a teaching position at MUM.
Now, it’s almost 40 years after he first came to MUM as a student. And there are no regrets. “Both Pam and I feel deeply that the best and most important decisions we have ever made for ourselves and our family were the ones that brought us to MUM,” says Dr. Levi.
Indeed, the University has benefited greatly from Dr. Levi’s vision and hard work. He co-founded the MUM Computer Professionals MSCS program, which has become one of the largest MSCS programs in the U.S. As of 2014, it has enrolled over 2,200 students who have gone on to work for over 1,000 U.S. companies. The program has a 98% placement rate for graduates and they earn an average starting salary of $70,000 per year.
A Practical Degree, Preparing Graduates for the Working World
Dr. Levi notes the uniqueness of MUM’s approach to computer science education. “Our department is more professionally oriented than most computer science master’s programs,” he says. In fact, MUM’s computer science faculty is known for keeping up to date on the fast changing technologies in the software and computer technologies fields, and teaches directly to market needs.
When asked how being on MUM’s faculty compares with being a student, Dr. Levi sees as many similarities as differences.
“There is a common bond at MUM regardless of one’s role,” he says. “It’s related to the experience of the Self — that quiet place in one’s awareness, the place that does not change. While it may become clearer and more familiar over time, the essential experience of wholeness, of inner awareness and pure consciousness always remains the same.”
Dr. Levi adds, “To me, that simple but very profound experience is the essence of Consciousness-Based education, the essence of Maharishi’s knowledge, and the essence of the University.”
Written by Warren Goldie