Energy and resources professor and former UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Mark Christensen has died
BERKELEY – Mark N. Christensen, a professor emeritus of energy and resources at the University of California, Berkeley, who served briefly as the second chancellor of the UC Santa Cruz campus, died from cancer on Thursday, Oct. 2, at his home in Carmel, Calif.
Christensen was instrumental in founding the Energy & Resources Group at UC Berkeley nearly 30 years ago, in the midst of a major energy crisis, just before moving to UC Santa Cruz, where he served as chancellor from July 1974 through January 1976.
His research focused on energy, the environment and development, with a special focus on energy conservation and renewable-energy resources. Though he retired from UC Berkeley in 1994, he continued advising doctoral students and working on issues involving the Carmel River.
Born in Green Bay, Wis., on July 16, 1930, Christensen received a bachelor's degree in geology in 1952 from the University of Alaska and a PhD. in geology in 1959 from Berkeley. He joined the UC Berkeley geology department faculty in 1959 and earned the campus's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1962. He served as head of the campus's Academic Senate from 1970 to 1972, the year he was appointed vice chancellor, a position second only to then-Chancellor Albert Bowker
It was while serving as vice chancellor that he helped facilitate an interdisciplinary program of teaching and research in energy and resources. He helped short-circuit an often lengthy process to create the Energy & Resources Group in 1974, not only with authorization to grant a PhD, but as the only group other than a department able to hire faculty directly. Today there are seven faculty members in the group.
"Thanks to the energy crisis and highly unusual steps taken by Christensen, he got the effort launched in six months, when it could have taken six years," said colleague Richard Norgaard, UC Berkeley professor of energy and resources.
Upon his return to UC Berkeley from UC Santa Cruz in 1976, Christensen joined the group as professor of energy and resources, where he remained until his retirement in 1994. He was known for co-teaching the introductory Energy and Society course, concentrating on the social aspects of energy policy.
Christensen is survived by his wife, Regine Godfrey of Carmel, and two children, Abe Christensen of Berkeley, and Karen Christensen of Felton.
Services are pending for Christensen.