British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Professor Mike Clark RIP

mjc.jpg_SIA - JPG - Fit to Width_144_trueIt is with sadness that we report that Professor Michael Clark died on Friday 11 April. Mike died following a long illness that spanned more than 7 years – he had a rare form of cancer of the liver that, for a long period, was held in check by a specialist therapy.  Mike remained active to the end, visiting projects and working abroad.

Mike was Chair of the Board of Trustees (Executive Committee) of the BUFVC for over two decades (handing over to John Ellis) and he had been a Trustee before he became Chair. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the BUFVC and an erudite protagonist for ‘audiovisual literacy’ in academia. An important scientist in the fields of glaciology, geomorphology and remote sensing (, he established the Geodata Institute at the University of Southampton which was a self-funded institute drawing upon industry support. He was also an accomplished film-maker, writer and speaker.

In his ‘spare’ time Mike was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Atherley School in Southampton and he managed the difficult merger of the Atherley with Embley Park School which became Hampshire Collegiate School – a leading institution in the United Learning Trust (formerly the United Church Schools Trust).

Mike’s funeral will take place in Romsey Abbey at 10.30 am on Friday 25th April.  Romsey Abbey ( is an appropriate venue because it is a large and beautiful Norman building that might just accommodate the number of people who will be likely to attend. The congregation will be going to The White Horse Hotel (in the centre of Romsey after the funeral.

Below we reprint the profile of Mike by John Allen amd Murray Weston that was published in Viewfinder magazine in 2007 upon the occasion of his retirement as the Chair of BUFVC.


Professor Michael Clark retired as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the British Universities Film & Video Council in August 2007.  John Allen and Murray Weston take this opportunity to reflect on Mike’s contribution to our field of work.

After more than twenty years of devoted service to the British Universities Film & Video Council as Chair of the Executive Committee and Trustee of the Council, Professor Michael Clark (‘Mike’ to all his many friends) retired in August 2007.  Over the years Mike has made a tremendous contribution to the BUFVC’s work, guiding it skilfully and wisely through exciting developments and the almost inevitable financial and ‘political’ issues which presented themselves along the way. Always an optimist, Mike has provided positive and visionary counsel and has been an invaluable active negotiator and mediator. In 2006–2007 Mike assisted the BUFVC through its Strategic Options review.  He was also invited to chair a JISC-funded consultation on services for technical advice on moving pictures and sound.

Mike Clark directing, behind the camera.

Mike Clark directing, behind the camera.

Mike’s academic career started in geomorphology and his early films were concerned with subjects such as river and coast erosion. More recently, in collaboration with his friend and colleague John Allen, he scripted and directed many productions for DVD distribution, mostly for ‘public information’. Particularly notable among these was MAPPING ACCESS LAND, GET INFORMED: GET INVOLVED (2001), presented by John Craven. Film and photography are in his blood and this is why the fortunes of BUFVC have been so dear to him.

In 1975 Mike co-produced a film sponsored by the University Grants Committee (a fore-runner of the Funding Councils) entitled A BIT OF AN EXTRA. This film explored the value and use of moving images in university teaching and research – and much of its content is worthy of attention more than thirty years on.  During Mike’s association with the BUFVC he led screenings and conferences and contributed to publications.

In addition to his teaching and research at the University of Southampton he established the self-funded Geodata Institute (, which, under his directorship has become a successful research and development unit. Mike’s success in attracting external funding to support the Geodata Institute enabled him to engage in a wide variety of initiatives and this work has opened many new horizons and challenges. In recent years he has devoted a great deal of time and energy to the problems of Sub-Saharan Africa working, for example, with engineers in planning water resources projects.  He has also been particularly influential in the development of policies to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS.  Finally, a project which combines his background as a geomorphologist with his media production work, has been his involvement in the establishment of an ‘Ice World’ museum in the Val d’Herens in Switzerland, where all the latest display technologies will be deployed.

Mike has always been much in demand for his exemplary skills as a Chairman. He is currently Chair of the Solent Forum, a regional coastal body, established to improve the management of the Solent and its coastline. It represents more than sixty commercial organisations in the area. He is also Vice Chair of the Hampshire Collegiate School and a Trustee and a Board member of the United Schools Trust Foundation. Although he clearly leads an extremely busy and varied life, he has never lost his interest in moving image media production, continuing to write and direct and to publish widely on the use of media in teaching. Currently he is particularly concerned with the development of e-learning at all levels in education.

There are very few people who have been able to combine high quality teaching, research and media production in an outstanding career. Mike Clark is one of those few and the BUFVC, and higher education nationally, has been the beneficiary of his skills. We thank him for his long-standing support and assistance.

John Allen
Former Head of the Department of Teaching Media, University of Southampton

Murray Weston
Former Chief Executive, British Universities Film & Video Council

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