The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Student dies before finishing thesis

Memorial services were held for CSUN student George Mark Clark on Sunday, June 22 at the campus’ University Club near the Orange Grove.

Doug Yule, chair of the Department of Geological Sciences, presented a master’s degree in geology posthumously to Clark’s wife Kathy and daughter Cindy during the memorial service.

Clark, 61, a retired aerospace employee, completed all coursework toward his master’s degree at CSUN. Yule said the only thing that remained was his thesis.

“He had done all work, short of writing his thesis,” Yule said. “It was the department’s idea to award the degree posthumously because we wanted to show our appreciation. He was of such value to the department.”

Yule said Clark developed relationships with students as well as faculty, and the comments written in a pamphlet at the memorial service expressed how profoundly he touched people’s lives.

“George was a wonderful human being, a great student, a great friend to everyone in the department … though he was in his early 60s, he had the enthusiasm of a kid when it came to research and his studies,” Yule said. “He was a father figure to younger students, and he brought that unique perspective and set positive examples for students around him.”

Yule said Clark was the best student in every class. Graduate students and faculty get to know one another well because they do fieldwork together in a communal-type setting, he said.

“It was (George’s) idea for the memorial service here,” Yule said. “He and his family discussed his wishes. George had really liked the new pond and river that were under construction. He liked the idea of his family and friends gathering at Northridge. He loved being a student here.”

Clark was also a teaching associate for the department.

Clark’s research advisor, Ali Tabidian, chair of the department of hydrogeology and environmental geology, said Clark’s work experience was invaluable to the students with whom he worked, as was his friendliness and willingness to help.

“He spent time to sit with and discuss homework problems,” Tabidian said. “He made a positive impact on many graduate and undergraduate students. He would help students practice and improve their oral presentations.”

Clark’s area of research was hydrogeology (groundwater) in Simi Valley.

“His project would have contributed significantly to Simi Valley,” Tabidian said. “The city has some high groundwater tables, and he was doing computer modeling to simulate the water of Simi Valley. They would have been able to use it for water management.

“I will catalog his work and have another student continue the research because it’s a way to recognize his contribution,” Tabidian said.

Clark had a distinguished 34-year career in aerospace at Rockwell and The Boeing Company. During that time, he earned a master’s of science degree in engineering at USC.

Clark was actively involved with the early space program (rocketry and re-entry shuttles), and he later participated in the development of military aircraft. He earned his bachelor of science degree in engineering in 1967 at the UC Berkeley. He was 16 years old when he entered UC Berkeley.

Clark enrolled as a student at CSUN in 2002. After returning to school, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatment. Clark returned to CSUN once the cancer was in remission. He was re-diagnosed in April. He died on June 7.

He is survived by his wife Kathy, mother Maria, daughter Cindy, brother Joseph and wife Elena, sister Marilyn and husband Richard Kennedy, a nephew and 4 nieces, and a great-nephew and 5 great-nieces.

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