In memoriam: Antony Orme, 83, geographer, professor, and former White Mountain Research Center director

Antony Orme
Antony Orme, seen here with the summit of White Mountain in the background, served as director of White Mountain Research Center from 2012 to 2016. Image: Courtesy of UC WMRC

Glen Sproul, UC Los Angeles

Antony Orme, professor emeritus of geography who served as dean of the social sciences division at UC Los Angeles, died May 30, 2020 of cancer after almost a half century of service to the University. He was 83 years old.

Orme was a dedicated geomorphologist, whose research focused on a variety of geographical systems, from the mountains to the sea.

Shortly after his retirement from teaching, Orme took on his final administrative role, as director of the University of California’s White Mountain Research Center (WMRC), from 2012 to 2016. At the center he undertook a highly successful reorganization and renovation of operations and facilities. With multiple research stations that were more than 14,000 feet in elevation, the task was daunting. His achievements at the White Mountain Research Center marked an incredible capstone to a distinguished career of research, education and service.

“Tony was truly visionary in rebuilding WMRC operations and facilities despite tight budgets. His energy and can-do spirit was infectious and he carried us all along in this mission. All of us in the WMRC family owe Tony Orme a huge debt of gratitude,” wrote Glen MacDonald, current director of White Mountain Research Center.

Colleagues remember Orme, who earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Birmingham, as particularly fond of coastlines. He taught in the geography department at UCLA from 1968 to 2010 and served as department chair from 1974 to 1977. He was dean of social sciences from 1977 to 1983.

Orme was also keenly interested in the history of geology and geomorphology, which the study of landforms, their processes, form and sediments at the surface of the Earth, and published scholarly pieces on that topic. He served as an editor for journals, books and book series. 

He also was a gifted cartographer and scientific illustrator who could visually bring to life the objects of his study. During his career, Orme was honored with awards including Honorary Life Member and Honorary Fellow of the British Society for Geomorphology, Founders’ Medal and Frost Lecturer, British Geomorphological Research Group, Mel Marcus Distinguished Career Award from the AAG Geomorphology Specialty Group, and the UCLA Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorship Award.

Orme’s greatest contributions was as an inspiring teacher and mentor of graduate students. During his career at UCLA he supervised more than 20 doctoral dissertations. Students and faculty in the department remember his geological and geomorphological knowledge as encyclopedic and his enthusiasm infectious.

Orme is survived by his wife Amalie, a professor of geography at Cal State Northridge, his sons Mark and Kevin, and daughter, Devon. His daughter, who is an assistant professor of earth sciences at Montana State University, recently gave birth to a daughter.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *