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MIT lecturer C. Michael Mohr dies at 72

C. Michael Mohr
C. Michael Mohr
C. Michael Mohr, a senior lecturer in the chemicial engineering department for more than 30 years, receives the Big Screw faculty award in 1998.
C. Michael Mohr, a senior lecturer in the chemicial engineering department for more than 30 years, receives the Big Screw faculty award in 1998.
Photo courtesy / The Tech, Thomas E. Murphy

C. Michael Mohr, a chemical engineer and beloved MIT lecturer whose undergraduate students presented him with the annual Outstanding Faculty Award more than 10 years in a row, died of lung cancer on Thursday, June 9, at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was 72.

Mohr, a native of South Haven, Mich., lived in Melrose, Mass. He had taught at MIT as a senior lecturer in the department of chemical engineering for over 30 years.

Mohr specialized in process synthesis, mathematical modeling and systems engineering. His dedication to his students arose both from enthusiasm for his field and empathetic awareness of the challenges facing young adults, colleagues said.

"Mike was a brilliant teacher and a dedicated mentor for generations of MIT chemical engineering undergraduates. We will sorely miss his warmth and generosity," said Provost Robert A. Brown.

"Mike has a very warm spot in the hearts of all of the members of the department--students, staff and faculty. He was an incredibly effective and loved teacher, as evidenced by the steady stream of teaching awards that he received year after year. He was a primary contact and mentor for many of our undergraduates, and he cared deeply about their well-being as students and as young adults. It is very difficult to imagine the department without Mike," said Robert Armstrong, Chevron Professor and head of the chemical engineering department, in a letter to the department.

Mohr was presented the prestigious Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by undergraduates and won the annual Big Screw charity fund-raiser award in 1998.

Mohr served as coordinator for his department's Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), guiding students to--and through--their first laboratory research jobs. A tenor who sang with the MIT Logarhythms, the Institute's all-male a capella group, as an undergraduate, Mohr also served as a founding faculty advisor to the co-ed MIT Chorallaries.

"Michael cared deeply about our students. He had a great knowledge of MIT's culture, and knew that young, inexperienced people sometimes got lost in its complexities. He was always accessible when a colleague needed advice or was faced with a problem.

"He had many admirable qualities, including a wonderful sense of humor, but the one that I appreciated the most was his ability to know which advisees seemed to be heading into trouble and might need assistance. During the 19 years that I was fortunate enough to work with Michael, he quietly helped many undergraduates to earn their degrees and enter the workforce," said Arnold R. Henderson Jr., associate dean and co-director for Student Support Services.

"Teaching and only teaching was his life. He never repeated a lecture or a problem set. He took great pride in teaching and being accessible," said glass bead artist Martha Giberson, Mohr's wife of 23 years.

Mohr came to MIT in 1958 as an assistant professor of chemical engineering. He worked from 1967 to 1973 as a consultant in the Systems Engineering Department at Arthur D. Little Inc., then returned to MIT as a visiting professor in 1973. He became a senior lecturer in 1974.

He received three degrees in chemical engineering from MIT: the S.B. degree in 1955, the M.A. degree in 1956, and the Sc.D. degree in 1961.

He is survived by his wife; a daughter, Martha W. Mohr of North Adams, Mass.; a brother, W. David Mohr of Benton Harbor, Mich.; two nephews and one niece. A daughter, Christine S. Mohr, predeceased him.

Visiting hours will be held at the Robinson Funeral Home, 809 Main St., Melrose, on Sunday, June 12, from 2 to 6 p.m.

A memorial service will be held at the MIT Chapel, 48 Mass. Ave., Building W-15, Cambridge, on Tuesday, June 21, at 2 p.m. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend.

Gifts in Mohr's memory may be made to the Pine Street Inn, 444 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02118 or to the Craft Emergency Relief Fund, P.O. Box 838, Montpelier, VT 05601.

Interment will be private.

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