Carl S. Weber, 70, musician, biology professor at UMBC

September 27, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun reporter

Dr. Carl S. Weber, who had been a founding faculty member at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and taught biological sciences there for nearly four decades, died of lymphoma Sept. 20 at his Odenton home. He was 70.

Dr. Weber was born in Hartford, Conn., the son of German immigrants, and raised in Milford, Conn., and Dallas.

A musical prodigy, he was sent at age 13 to study at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He earned a bachelor's degree in music from Southern Methodist University in 1957.

He studied medicine for a year at the University of Texas-Southwestern, then returned to Southern Methodist and earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1960. After earning a master's degree and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Dr. Weber came to Baltimore as a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution in its department of embryology.

In 1967, Dr. Weber joined the UMBC faculty as an assistant professor of biological studies. He taught there until retiring in 2005.

He was instrumental in the late 1960s in establishing UMBC's core curriculum concept in biology and during his tenure developed a dozen new courses, including subcellular and cellular biology, advanced biochemistry, nutrition, biology of cancer and heart disease, and ecology of rivers and streams.

He also expanded existing courses in genetics, concepts of biology and human anatomy, and physiology.

"When I was an undergraduate at UMBC, he was widely known as the best teacher in the department. He had such a breadth of knowledge and passion in the classroom. He was so into the material that students couldn't help but be engaged," said Brian McKay, senior lecturer in the biological sciences department at UMBC.

"He had a way of listening to you and was always interested in what you had to say," Dr. McKay said.

Dr. Weber was also known for his comprehensive examinations.

"When I was a graduate student, I remember his final exam. It began at 6 p.m., and at midnight he'd go out and bring in doughnuts for us," Dr. McKay recalled. "Survivors would finally stagger out of the exam at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. That's how thorough they were."

Dr. Weber's campus office was a far cry from the stereotype of cramped quarters, strewn with books and papers.

"All the books were carefully arranged from the tallest to the smallest, and on his desk he would carefully arrange all the pencils in a row with their points in one direction," Dr. McKay said.

"One day, a student came in when Dr. Weber wasn't there and turned one of the pencils around. When he returned an hour later, the pencil had been turned and placed back where it belonged and everything was in order," he said.

Dr. Weber was a member of the UMBC Faculty Senate and the library faculty liaison for the science department. During the construction of a new science building, he was responsible for coordinating the designs of laboratory facilities. He was also a member of the academic standards committee and undergraduate council.

In 2002, he was honored with a UMBC Alumni Association Award for Faculty Advising and Mentoring.

Even though he officially retired in June 2005, Dr. Weber was called back that fall to teach biochemistry.

Outside of his work at UMBC, Dr. Weber had a keen interest in and lectured widely on clean water and monitoring of streams and rivers.

He was a key figure in Maryland Save Our Streams' Project Heartbeat, a water monitoring program. He had been a member of several state groups focusing on water quality and waterway monitoring.

Dr. Weber played the violin and collected classical, folk, bluegrass and Celtic music. He also enjoyed travel and bird watching.

A memorial gathering will be held from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at UMBC's Kuhn Library, 1000 Hilltop Circle in Catonsville.

Surviving are his wife of 23 years, Catherine Saunders, a clinical social worker; a son, Mark Weber of Melbourne, Fla.; two daughters, Karen Lynn Weber of Severn and Liese Ann Weber-Frutchey of Baltimore; and six grandchildren. His marriage to the former Jean Baker ended in divorce.

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