In Memoriam: Clayton Bates Jr., 1932-2024

Clayton Bates Jr., professor emeritus of materials science and engineering and electrical engineering at Stanford University, passed away on February 18 at the age of 91.

Prior to his career in higher education, Dr. Bates spent a decade in various electrical and nuclear engineering roles with Ford Instruments and Varian Associates. On a sabbatical in 1967, he worked as an associate professor at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, which sparked his interest in education.

In 1972, Dr. Bates joined the faculty at Stanford University as an associate professor and the first Black faculty member to hold a tenure-track position in the School of Engineering. He was promoted to full professor five years later, making him the first Black professor to earn tenure in the School of Engineering. For over two decades, he taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in physics and electrical engineering. In addition to his academic endeavors, Dr. Bates was an advocate for Black representation in STEM. Along with a group of graduate students, he founded the Stanford Society of Black Scientists and Engineers, a chapter of the National Society for Black Engineers.

Upon retiring from Stanford university in 1994, Dr. Bates taught in the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he was later promoted to associate dean for graduate education and research. In this role, he founded the first graduate program in material sciences and engineering at a historically Black college or university.

Dr. Bates held a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Manhattan College, a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, a second master’s degree in applied physics from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in physics from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

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