Remembering Cliff Murino

Scientist helmed UCAR, ATD in 1970s–80s

February 13, 2014 | Clifford Murino, the fourth of UCAR’s six presidents to date, passed away on January 4 in Newport, Oregon. Cliff was director of NCAR’s Atmospheric Technology Division (now EOL) from 1975 to 1980 and president of UCAR from 1983 to 1988. In the latter role, he oversaw the birth of several important initiatives, including Unidata, VSP, and the UCAR Foundation.

Cliff Murino
Cliff Murino. (©UCAR.)

Before heading UCAR, Cliff was president of the Desert Research Institute at the University of Nevada. He also held several key positions at St. Louis University, where he earned his master’s degree in meteorology and a doctorate in geology. In addition, Cliff served in the late 1960s as the physical science coordinator for NSF.

Cliff served the community in many other ways during his long and distinguished career. He sat on the National Science Board during much of his time at UCAR, and in 1985 he was president of the American Meteorological Society.

According to Rick Anthes, who succeeded Cliff as UCAR president, “Cliff was passionate about UCAR and the university community, as well as the AMS, and he served both with distinction. Indeed, he loved the atmospheric sciences community.” Rick adds: “UCAR and NCAR began the long effort to obtain the NSF/NCAR HIAPER aircraft under Cliff’s leadership, and this effort has proven to be a great success.”

Bob Serafin followed Cliff as ATD director before going on to head NCAR in the 1990s. Bob recalls that when Cliff directed ATD, the position included responsibility for computing as well as observing facilities. “The combined budget was quite large, about half of NCAR’s total,” recalls Bob. “Cliff was a strong proponent of facilities and an effective spokesperson.”

In an email to staff, UCAR president Tom Bogdan noted, “I only met Cliff briefly while I was a young visiting scientist at NCAR, but I know that his five years as UCAR president were a time of growth and progress for the organization.”

When he retired in 1988, Cliff stated, “NCAR has grown in strength, quality and vitality. It stands as the centerpiece of the national academic atmospheric sciences program, and of all UCAR activities.”

According to Cliff’s son John, “He loved his time at both UCAR and NCAR, and both of these organizations were a big part of my father’s and our family’s lives.” Among Cliff’s many interests beyond atmospheric science were travel, boating, and photography. “His greatest lifelong passion was fishing,” says John, “from the time that he was a little boy in Rockaway Beach in New York, fishing with his father, to his final days, salmon fishing in Oregon.”

Along with John, Cliff is survived by daughters Carolyn and Kathryn and four grandchildren.