Inspirational professor and artist passes away

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Professor Emeritus Samuel Huang forever left his mark at Riverside City College on the Life Sciences building in the form of a 55-foot mural 40 years ago. He was an accomplished artist and revered biology professor at RCC.

Dr. Huang’s former student Mark Schooley met him at RCC in 1974 while working on the ecological mural and later took his health science class. Schooley and Huang became friends and did art shows together. Schooley considers Dr. Huang one of his “major mentors.”

“As a (teacher), he would do anything to help you,” said Schooley. “He really cared. He had a lot of passion for what he did.”

Dr. Huang served with Schooley for several years on the board of the Riverside Community Arts Association and is credited with being a huge driving force in the building of RCAA. Huang was well-known everywhere he went.

“We couldn’t go 10 feet without people coming up to him and telling him how he impacted their life,” said Schooley. “I would go down any dark alley with him because he shined a light.”

Samuel D. Huang grew up in occupied China during World War II. He came to the US at age 9 because he needed to be treated for a rare form of tuberculosis he contracted after stepping on a jagged piece of metal. He lost his leg, but that never stopped him from accomplishing many things in his life.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz, as well as a master’s and Ph.D. in Biology from St. John’s University in New York. He taught Biology at several universities before coming to RCC in 1974.

In 1975 Dr. Huang created the ecological mural students see today while passing by the Life Sciences building. The 55-by-10 foot mural is made of metal objects, children’s toys, cement and acrylic paint. It depicts the effects of modern society, pollution and the destruction of nature by humans, effects which continue to ring true 40 years later.

It was Dr. Huang’s passion to blend art and science together. In 1977, Dr. Huang gave a lecture at the annual faculty lecture on his new art concept called focalism.

“Since I’ve been at RCC, I’ve worked in both areas of science (biology and health) and developing my art,” said Huang in a May 1977 Viewpoints article. “What I originally started out to do was integrate art and science. The idea came out of a biology lab where students experiment with a microscope. When you look into a microscope, you think in terms of just width, but it allows you depth too.”

In 1985 Dr. Huang was the first person to be granted full professorship at RCC. He also received the Teacher of the Year Award twice and has been nominated by the Riverside Chamber of Commerce for the Martin Luther King Award, given to outstanding community members who work to improve racial relationships.

Dr. Huang felt a strong tie to his students. At graduation ceremonies he would march and sit with the students graduating instead of with the faculty. Some students found him to be like family because he had such a strong positive influence in their lives.

Dr. Samuel Huang passed away Feb. 18 at age 79. He is survived by his wife Kitty, daughters, step daughter, step son and his sisters.

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