John R. Clark, an Orange Coast College professor of mathematics and computer information systems, was named the college's "Faculty Member of the Year" for 1990-91. Clark, a Harvard University graduate, addressed an audience of 500 students, instructors and staff members Tuesday (Nov. 27) with a 45-minute lecture on transfinite numbers.

The question is how did a farm boy, who grew up on the west fork of Eight-Mile Creek 2-3/4 miles as the crow flies west northwest of Centropolis, KS, attended a one room grade school and a 4 teacher Appanoose High School ever end up doing this?

About the only answer is:

He was at the right place at the right time and had the right skills when certain events occurred.

At no time during his first quarter century of life did he ever entaintain the concept of becomming a teacher. On 4 Oct 1957 along came Sputnik, and you had to have a room temperature IQ not to realize that education could be the great game of the next quarter century. For me it was a chance to put some skills to use.

Personally, Sputnik was not a supprise to this writer . In Spring of 1953 as part of a senior seminar for a B.A. in History each student was to give a presentation on what would be the most important event of the comming years. I choose the concept of satellites and how they would impact civilization. Tossed in a few calculus calculations to prove it could be done. {When I was finished I was pretty sure that noone in the room including the professor has the slightest idea of what I was talking about.}

Sputnik generated immediate concern about the position of United States in the areas of science and technology. There was no question that the schools which were working with the 1930's orientation needed to be kick started and brought up to speed. For the next 10 years great emphasis was placed on improving the math and science education in the secondary schools. This emphasis was backuped with many National Science Foundation grants in the form of summer institutes and academic fellowships.

In the 1960's I personally got to attend five of these summer institutes, and taught in two others. If you were involved in teaching mathematics or science or that part of business that used computers, it was a good time and educational programs were starting to improve. Almost every two year college had started to teach classes in the use of computers. Some where in my records is a report dealing with 168 computer instructors in community colleges, and 135 of them had been in attendance at the summer institutes conducted at Orange Coast College.

However, by the mid 1970's those with the room temperature IQ somehow managed to get control of education and place emphasis on attitude classes rather than achievement classes. By that time I had become entrenched with tenure and a bit hard to remove.

"This homepage under a major revision. The new parts are located at

Included are the specifications of the first computer equipment at OCC back in 1950's and a write up on the LGP-30 -- the first real computer at OCC.