Yvonne Young Clark, who served on the faculty at Tennessee State University in Nashville for 55 years, died in her sleep on January 27. She was 89 years old.
Professor Clark was a native of Houston but grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. She graduated from high school at age 16 and went on to become the first woman to earn a degree in mechanical engineering at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Later, she was the first African American woman to earn a master’s degree in engineering management from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
In 1956, Professor Clark joined the faculty at what was then Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State University in Nashville. She was the first woman faculty member in the mechanical engineering department. She rose through the ranks to associate professor and served as the chair of the department of mechanical engineering at what is now Tennessee State University for two terms for a total of 11 years. Clark retired as a professor emerita in 2011 after serving on the faculty for 55 years.
Marquan Martin, who now works in the Office of Emergency Management at Tennessee State and was a student of Professor Clark, stated that “she challenged you, encouraged you, and she genuinely cared about every student. She was an amazing professor and mentor, a true gem to the Tennessee State University community.”