Excellence Equals Pamela Clute

A memorial service Sept. 6 at UC Riverside gave friends and fans a chance to tell stories about the charismatic evangelist for the importance of mathematics

Kayla Bui, a 2010 UCR graduate who now teaches high school math, speaks at the Pam Clute Celebration of Life. On the right is current UCR student Tricia Pryer. photo by Carrie Rosema

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — A dozen speakers from all walks of life tried to add up why Pamela S. Clute made such a big impression. Was it her white hair and black clothes? Was it her constant smile, and her passion for her subject? Was it the hands-on teaching style, with nautilus shells and paper folding and soccer balls to illustrate why mathematics and science is everywhere? Was it the Coachella Valley Math Field Day, the GEMS summer programs, the STEP Conference?

Yes, all of that. But most of all, they said, it was the way she made you feel.

“I don’t remember every bit of information she taught me. But I do know that without a doubt, I am a strong, successful woman because of what she taught me,” said Kayla Bui, a 2010 UCR graduate who now teaches high school math.

In front of an audience of an estimated 500 people in the UCR Student Recreation Center, each speaker offered memories of the woman who devoted her life to math and science outreach, and to the University of California, Riverside.

A ceramic rose was a symbol for those who attended, because Clute used them in her math outreach to young women. photo by Carrie Rosema

A ceramic rose was a symbol for those who attended, because Clute used them in her math outreach to young women.
photo by Carrie Rosema

Pamela Clute, assistant vice chancellor emerita and UCR Foundation trustee, died Aug. 21 at the age of 66. She held three degrees from UCR, and pursued STEM outreach for more than 40 years. She is survived by her husband, former California Assemblyman Steve Clute, of Palm Desert.

“Today, we gather to celebrate the life of one of the most passionate and dynamic educators the Inland Empire has ever known,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, who has represented the Inland region in Congress since the 1990s.

The Mayor of Riverside, Rusty Bailey, said Clute was a personal friend. His wife went into teaching partly because of how inspired she was by Pam Clute.

“I have yet to meet another who can dazzle an audience with word and deed, folding paper into shapes I can’t even pronounce, while lecturing about historical female mathematicians and their impact on this planet, all while doing an ab attack routine with a headset and a microphone on,” Bailey said.

The “Ab Attack” class at the Student Recreation, led by Clute, consisted of a full hour of high intensity work on the abdominal muscles. She named some of the moves after mathematical equations, one participant remembered.

UCR Pam Clute celebration of Life drew approximately 500 people to the Student Recreation Center. photo by Carrie Rosema

UCR Pam Clute celebration of Life drew approximately 500 people to the Student Recreation Center.
photo by Carrie Rosema

Beverly Young, a friend and classmate of Clute in graduate school at UCR, worked in the field of educational outreach for the California State University system. She said she tried to recruit Pam Clute away from UCR, but Pam was devoted to her alma mater.

“Like so many of you, I had Pam as a personal support system,” she said. “She always told me how proud she was of me. She used to say to me that I was her hero. In the same way that Pam was able to uplift and inspire hundreds and thousands of learners, she was able to do that for me,” Young said. “I will miss her every day.”

UCR’s Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox said hard work is not enough, by itself, to make a difference in the world. It takes something more difficult to capture and to assess. “I can tell you that in the life of this university, Pamela Clute made a difference,” he said. I’ll be forever grateful for that impact she had. I’ll think of her as a model for simply making a difference.”

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox greets former Assemblyman Steve Clute,

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox greets former Assemblyman Steve Clute,

Gordon Bourns, chairman of Bourns, Inc., said he was inspired a decade ago by Pam Clute and a simple experiment with magnets and a heart-shaped wire. Since that time, he worked closely with her on a STEP Council, (Science Technology Education Partnership), that organized an annual conference on science and technology. Pam Clute was always one of the keynote speakers.

“She showed tens of thousands of students, of all ages, that math can be fun,” Bourns said.

That inspiration is not gone from the world, he said, but it lives within every teacher and student she met.

Kayla Bui, the high school math teacher in Perris, confirms that she adopted Pam’s energetic style, almost without being aware of it. Each first day of school she passes out the gold paper to her students. A few quick folds, and then a snip, and like magic they reveal the treasure inside, a perfect star. “This star,” she told the assembled as she held one up in the air. “This star, which my students staple up in the classroom, marking their commitment to achievement in my room.”

Other speakers at the memorial were: David Hansen, Superintendent, Riverside Unified School District; Tricia Pryer, UC Riverside student; John Benoit, Supervisor, 4th District of the County of Riverside; Timothy P. White, Chancellor, California State University; and O.J. Philpot, Senior Pastor, Christ Community Church.

Memorial donations can be made to the Pam Clute Memorial Scholarship Fund

By mail, please make checks payable to “UCR Foundation,” reference Pamela Clute in the memo line, and send to UCR Foundation, P.O. Box 112, Riverside, CA 92502-0112.

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