Lewis Akeley devoted a considerable amount of his life not only to the University but also, and more importantly, to his students. He was a man of passion, innovation, and inspiration. Such admirable qualities intermixed well with, at the time, premedical sophomore Ernest O. Lawrence. The two together took an important step into the future with the construction of a wireless station. Lawrence was fascinated by the scientific capabilities of wireless, and thought the school should build a wireless set. So in the Fall of 1919 he brought such an idea to Professor Akeley’s attention. With his sly “mole”-like tactics Akeley was able to gather $100 for the purchase of equipment and was able to give Lawrence a spare area on the top floor of the Science Hall. Soon after the University transmitter was communicating by a code, one that consisted of dots and dashes. The following fall, September 13th 1920, an amateur license was acquired from the Department of Commerce. Amongst this time Akeley’s infectious sense of excitement had encouraged Lawrence into physics, a topic the young man had never studied. Within the six weeks before the start of his junior year Lawrence completed the first year of physics, he spent many long days in rigorous study. His progress in physics was rapid. On one instance Akeley stated, “Class, this is Ernest Lawrence.” Akeley knew Lawrence’s potential and wanted the class to know that this was a man that they would one day be very proud of. During his senior year Lawrence was the only senior in advanced physics, so Akeley gave him the prescribed material and had him be the instructor. From then on Akeley played the student, he had full confidence in Lawrence’s ability.
Source: The University of South Dakota 1862-1966 by Cedric Cummins (page 173)