Remembering Professor Robin Clark 1935-2018

Professor Robin Clark, an enthusiastic and passionate UC alumni and supporter, passed away recently.

Born in Rangiora in 1935, Robin earned a BSc (1955) and MSc with first-class honours (1957) at UC, then known as the Canterbury University College, before becoming a national and senior national Fellow.

Robin went on to the University of Otago in 1958, where he was a research and teaching fellow before moving to University College London that year to undertake a PhD in Chemistry.  He remained at UCL throughout his academic career starting as an assistant lecturer in 1962, before gaining his DSc in 1969.

By 1988 Robin was the Dean of Science and the following year was named Head of the Chemistry Department. Robin had been the Sir William Ramsay Professor since that time.

From 1965 Robin held many visiting professorships, giving five named lectures throughout the world. He authored or co-authored around 520 publications, gave 138 lectures at conferences, co-authored around 80 posters, attended more than 300 academic conferences and seminars, and lectured in 36 countries.

He received 13 honours from the scientific and academic communities, including honours from the Royal Society of London (elected Fellow in 1990), Royal Society of Chemistry, Academia Europaea, the Royal Society of Arts, and the Czech Spectroscopy Society.

Robin’s chief appointments included Chairman of the XI International Conference on Raman Spectroscopy (1988) and Chairman of XI International’s International Steering Committee (1992 – 1994). He was deeply involved with the Royal Society, the Royal Institution, the University of London, and University College London. He was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in 2004.

In 2001, UC recognised Robin’s contributions to his field, awarding him an Honorary Doctorate (honoris causa) of Science.

In his oration at the April 2001 ceremony, Professor Jim Coxon (Chemistry) presented Robin as a “man of eminence and creativity in the scientific and chemical community.”

Pictured: Robin receiving his Honorary Doctorate from UC Chancellor, Dame Phyllis Guthardt.

Robin was named Chairman of the New Zealand University of Canterbury Trust, UK in 2004, a position he held for 12 years. In his 2016 farewell address Robin shared that while he had spent the majority of his adult life in the UK, his heart firmly remained in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“My children both still have New Zealand passports. All four grandchildren have visited New Zealand at least twice already. I remain a New Zealander at heart, and I have always been keen to help UC.”

A service of thanksgiving will be held for Robin next Wednesday and Alene Wilton, Chair of the UC New Zealand Trust/Alumni Group, will attend on behalf of the University.

Wednesday 19 December from 12.30pm
Christ Church & St Johns
Watling Street