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Stephen Pauley '62 Awarded the Trustees' Medal of Merit for His Contributions to Environmental Preservation and Education

Stephen and Marylyn Pauley

Stephen and Marylyn Pauley

Stephen Pauley, after receiving his award at Alumni Weekend 2012

Stephen Pauley, after receiving his award at Alumni Weekend 2012

Stephen Pauley ’62, a retired ear, nose and throat physician, has spent decades working on environmental causes, deeply affecting both the environment around him and at Pomona College. He directly influenced the growth of Pomona’s Environmental Analysis Program; and has supported a number of initiatives at the College through his family foundation, the Edwin W. Pauley Foundation, including the Pauley Tennis Complex, the Sontag Greek Theatre, and the Sontag Faculty Research Fund.

For his contributions to Pomona College, environmental preservation, education, and medical care abroad, Pauley is being awarded the Pomona College Trustees’ Medal of Merit. Typically, this award is presented at Commencement, but will instead be given to Pauley at his 50th class reunion during Alumni Weekend in April.

In his home state of Idaho, he has tackled light pollution and the diminishing salmon population of the Snake River. Four towns in his area have passed dark-sky ordinances thanks to the efforts of Pauley, who is known locally as “Dr. Dark.” “Fifty percent of light pollution is from street lights,” says Pauley, who has given lectures on astronomy and written articles on light pollution. “That’s the key—if you can get them regulated, you do wonders for the night sky.”

Before the Stephen M. Pauley ’62 Professorship in Environmental Studies was established in 2000, there was a nascent environmental analysis program at Pomona and Pauley and his wife Marylyn ’64, a trustee since 1983, had to help educate the Board as to the importance of the discipline.  At the time, Pauley said that one reason for his family foundation’s gift to the College was that “Many students from Pomona will be making decisions that affect the rest of us.  If they think about the environmental impact when they make those decisions, we will have done our job.” The major is now one of Pomona’s most popular.

“Without Steve’s support the Environmental Analysis Program would never have taken flight, and with it our expanded teaching in such important field areas as climate change science, physical geography, pollution studies, ecological design and engineering, globalization and the environment, sustainable architecture and agronomy,” says Richard Hazlett, who has held Pauley’s namesake professorship since it was introduced in 2000. “These are ‘Five College,’ not merely alma mater, contributions. He planted the seeds of significant curricular growth and change throughout Claremont in a most relevant and beneficial way.”

In 2010, when Pomona College was ranked in the top 10 for sustainability, President Emeritus Peter Stanley remarked, “Thanks to you, Steve, for informing and stimulating Pomona's efforts toward greater sustainability.  You were ahead of most of us, and we learned from you. You have been teacher, friend, philosopher and nag in just the right proportions!”

Pauley also has strong ties to Hawaii where he is an adjunct professor at the University of Hawai’i’s Sea Grant College Program, which is devoted to research and education for stewardship of Hawaii’s coastal and marine area. He has also brought Hawaii and Claremont together through the Pauley Summer Program, a collaborative research program at the University of Hawai’i’s Institute of Marine Biology. Each summer, one or two Pomona students spend 6-7 weeks on a collaborative research project near Oahu on Coconut Island, which used to belong to the Pauley family but was gifted to the University of Hawai’i in 1995 and is now used as a research station.

Majoring in zoology at Pomona, Pauley credits his enthusiasm for environmental causes—as well as his hobbies and career—to his experience here.  “Pomona taught me not to be afraid of diving into new things,” he told Pomona College Magazine in 1999.  While a senior, he took his first ecology course.  “We didn’t really know what it was then.  We studied the interactions of micro-systems, learned about weather patterns and water cycles, but we were ignorant then of what was really under way within the macro-systems of our planet.”

For many years, Pauley and his wife also participated in Operación Esperanza, a nonprofit organization that delivered medical care to people in Ecuador.  With Marylyn, a Spanish major at Pomona, serving as translator with families and medical teams, Steve performed reconstructive surgery for children born with cleft lip and cleft palette. Steve and Marylyn have two sons, Scott ’87 and Clarke, and four granddaughters.