Glenn Mason, IUS geology professor, dies

Students and faculty members speak on the geology professor’s impact on and off campus


Glenn Mason at Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of Clint Franklin

Candace Leilani, Staff Reporter

Words only describe so much of something. In this case of a well-loved geology professor; actions speak louder than words. 

Within the IUS Natural Sciences building, family was the word used to describe the relationship many had with Mason, coordinator of the Department of Geosciences.

Students said his teaching-methods engaged them in the material, whether or not they were geoscience majors. He often planned field trips outside of the class and even planned a nine-day trip out west every summer.

Photo courtesy of Clint Franklin

Jennifer Lathem, lecturer in geosciences, said she graduated from the geology program because of Mason. From her time as a student to becoming a peer and professor in the geosciences program, she said she saw Mason as a teacher and mentor.

She was welcomed into his class and took his advice to heart. From being a “lost student” and changing her mind seven times during her undergraduate degree to becoming a geology major, all it took was one conversation with Mason to convince her that she was in the right place.

“He was very caring and loving and it showed. He put so much effort into everything he did,” Lathem said. “He always put others first. He was always making sure his students got the work done that needed to be done … It was always the focus on students.”

Babek Rezaei, one of Mason’s students from 2013-2015, shared how, as a refugee, Mason told him his life wasn’t different than any other person in the U.S.

“He always reminded me that I am an American as he is and there is no distinction between those who came before and those who are newly Americans,” Rezaei said. “He wanted me to feel included and belong to our shared American story … Anytime we met in his office, he asked about my family members and wanted to learn more about different people groups and cultures.” 

Rezaei said he became a teacher because of him.

“He knew I was struggling with English as my fourth language, and he always gave me extra time to articulate my thoughts and to write my responses. He never judged me for my grammatical errors and graded my tests based on the merit and what I learned,” Rezaei said. “I loved Dr. Mason and I will never forget him.”

Shea Leffler, a biology student who graduated from IU Southeast in 2005, was introduced to Mason when she first took his dinosaurs course and has since kept in touch over the years.

Photo courtesy of Clint Franklin

“I teach my children the names of their dinosaur toys and when I brought them in to meet Dr. Mason, I held up my son’s dino toys and asked him their names,” Leffler said. “He said everyone right and I could see Dr. Mason was proud.”

Dale Brown, a prior student of Mason’s, spoke at the memorial service his family hosted Saturday, Nov. 10, allowing those in attendance the opportunity to share how the professor had impacted their life.

Clint Franklin, senior lecturer of geosciences, saw his dedication on a daily basis for over 13 years when Mason hired him in back in 2005.

Courtesy of Clint Franklin

“He cared a lot about his department. If you were a part of this department or a part of his life, he saw it as his role to protect you, to support you, to nurture you into the professor that he wanted you to be, to the best you can be.”

Franklin said there were many lessons Mason shared with his colleagues that stayed with them over the years.

“One thing I will take away is to slow down and remember the students are a big part of our life,” Franklin said. “It is why we are here.”

Mason’s 25 plus year commitment to his program, school and university has shown how much he cared about those he came into contact with. Elaine K. Haub, the Dean of the School of Natural Sciences, d explained how he was a larger supporter of geosciences than most realize.

“He was a part of the foundation of the school in terms of he wasn’t a person up front to take credit,” Haub said. “He was always behind, underneath, holding up the school and students. I kind of think of him as that cornerstone in the building and the school. He was the strength behind the scenes, not wanting to be up front. He was always behind doing to work.”

His legacy of experiential teaching – week trips out west, posters for the geology capstone, teaching and showing how to use the instruments in greater detail to benefit students’ use – for students lives on.

“Students were important to him because of his passion, the way he talked about students, the time, effort, energy, how proud he was of putting these trips together, seeing the joy that students had on these trips made him incredibly proud,” Franklin said.

Visit this memorial website to add your thoughts and memories for the family to cherish.