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Faculty Tributes

The 2017-18 school year represents a significant milestone for the Geology and Environmental Science programs. Two professors, representing nearly 50 years of service to the College, will be retiring at the end of the year.

Dr. Jeffrey K. Greenberg

Jeff GreenbergDr. Greenberg joined the faculty of Wheaton College in 1986 at a time when the Geology major was in danger of being eliminated. In fact, the department had been moved under the leadership of the Chair of the Department of Physics. Jeff was charged with increasing the number of geology majors or be content with teaching nothing but general education earth science for the rest of his career! By 1990, the major was viable enough that another professor could be recruited to restore the department.1 Jeff developed the Environmental Studies major in 1995, motivated by his interest in, and commitment to, creation care as a meaningful Christian vocation. He led the Geology and Environmental Science Department from the time he joined the faculty until December 2005.

Jeff has contributed to teaching or leadership at the Wheaton College Science Station every summer since 1986, putting him in the Mount Rushmore of longest-serving faculty at our Black Hills campus. Another record for Jeff must be the number of semesters in which he taught our introductory geology course, often three to four sections per year. In this role, he has shared his enthusiasm for geology and environmental stewardship with probably more than 4,000 students.

Jeff loves teaching in the field, and some 300 geology majors share vivid memories of wild adventures with him chasing outcrops and enjoying landscapes. He invested countless hours in the curation of a remarkable Department Collection of Rocks and Minerals, including the Arthur Smith Mineralogical Collection (received in 2012).  He has served on virtually every standing committee in faculty governance. Jeff ’s scholarship has been focused on appropriate technology and the use of geological knowledge for sustainable development. Co-editing the recent Geological Society of America Special Paper 520 Geoscience for the Public Good and Global Development: Toward a Sustainable Future is a fitting capstone for his career. He is co-organizer of an international conference dedicated to this theme, coming up in the spring.

Jeff coined the term geophilanthropy, which he defines as “service rendered by education/training of others, by volunteering one’s time and expertise in problem solving, or by materially supporting geology-related projects.”Jeff has been the heart and soul of the Department of Geology and Environmental Science for 31 years. The 82-year legacy of the Geology major (first granted in 1935) might have ended at less than 50 years without his passion, effort and leadership.

Dr. James A. Clark

Sue and Jim ClarkDr. Clark joined our department in 2000 after serving 17 years on the faculty at Calvin College. Jim’s reputation preceded his inquiry for the open position and we were ecstatic that he would consider joining us. After his inquiry, there were no other serious candidates for the position.

His various projects resulted in numerous peer-reviewed articles with student collaborators. These were important contributions to the understanding of post-glacial sea level rise. His work in the past ten years was largely focused on developing inexpensive geophysical tools for groundwater exploration. For this work, he received the Gieser Award for contributions to missions. Some of his Wheaton College mentees are professors at flagship state universities and many others are involved in work ranging from water resource development in the majority world to domestic environmental management to energy exploration. He and his wife Susan traveled with the Honduras Project team during a spring break and he has made numerous visits to HNGR interns over the years. His teaching serves both the Geology and Environmental Science majors, as well as general education. Students understand that

Dr. Clark’s courses are challenging, but worth the effort for practical professional development. He delivers a devotion before each lecture that integrates the scriptures and Christian teachings with course material in imaginative ways. Students light up when he says, “True story….” because they know it signals the beginning of some amazing adventure in his past. As a colleague, Jim is always willing to pitch in with entertaining guest to the department, encouraging prospective students to accept offers of admission, or build just about any experiment or gadget that will advance our educational mission. Jim will be missed, but his legacy of teaching and mentoring will continue with his students in their vocations to advance Christ’s Kingdom on the good Earth.