Beloved retired professor George August Maul, the oceanographer and educator with a disarming smile and limitless curiosity who made a profound impact on marine and environmental science programs at Florida Tech as a department head, advocate, fundraiser and speaker, passed away Sept. 16. He was 82 and had cancer.
Maul came to Florida Tech in 1994, and for the following two decades, led what was then called the department of marine and environmental systems.
Supervising 250 undergraduates and 15 faculty members in oceanography, environmental science, ocean engineering and more wasn’t enough for him, though. So, Maul went on to create the undergraduate and graduate meteorology programs and the graduate earth remote sensing program and to raise over $4 million in endowed fellowships, scholarships and a professorship.
He was a mentor to numerous faculty and the dapper guide into the world of oceanography for countless students who now populate leading agencies, labs and vessels across the globe.
“Florida Tech’s greatness is reflected in our alumni, and George’s department leadership, classroom acumen and peerless spirit ensured his students were shining examples of the power of a Florida Tech education,” says Florida Tech President T. Dwayne McCay. “He was a special man who cared deeply about the things that matter—service, faith, charity and the wider world around us—and Mary Helen and I join the entire campus community in offering our heartfelt condolences on this monumental loss.”
The only thing that may have rivaled Maul’s passion for oceanography was his love of the Boy Scouts. In 2018, with 59 years as an Eagle Scout, Maul was recognized as one of the top adult Eagle Scouts in Central Florida when he was given the National Eagle Scout Association Outstanding Eagle Scout Award. His volunteering with Boy Scouts of America, including roles from troop leader to district commissioner, had previously earned him the Silver Beaver Award and the Order of the Arrow’s Vigil Honor.
In many respects, Maul’s life reflected the Eagle Scout motto: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Rich Aronson, head of the department of ocean engineering and marine sciences, knew Maul since he arrived at Florida Tech in January 2009.
“We worked together, talked science together and dreamed dreams together about the university’s marine programs,” Aronson says. “My sweetest memory of him, though, is a simple thing. I was driving onto University Boulevard on my way home one evening a couple of years ago, and there was George, ever the Eagle Scout, picking up cigarette butts from Florida Tech’s grounds. He was a ‘mensch’ in the truest sense of the word.”
A graduate of the State University of New York Maritime College at Fort Schuyler who, later, was awarded a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Maul had an ocean-faring early career.
From 1960 through 1969, he held ranks from ensign through lieutenant commander in the commissioned officer corps of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.
Between 1969 and 1984, he was a research oceanographer, and from 1984 to 1994, he served as a supervisory oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, where he earned five Outstanding Performance awards and three Distinguished Authorship awards.
He also worked as adjunct professor of meteorology and physical oceanography at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science from 1977 to 1996.
Maul was chief scientist on numerous oceanographic cruises and has published over 200 journal articles, book chapters, guest editorials, technical reports, refereed abstracts and books on oceanography and meteorology.
Among his most recent was 2017’s The Oceanographer’s Companion: Essential Nautical Skills for Seagoing Scientists and Engineers, in which he helped familiarize readers with the basics of navigation, seamanship, marine engineering, safety-of-life-at-sea, ship handling, knots and more.
His fellowships, memberships, recognitions and awards could fill their own book, but among the highlights: medalist, Florida Academy of Sciences; fellow, American Meteorological Society and Marine Technology Society; member, American Geophysical Union, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, Omicron Delta Kappa, Alpha Phi Omega; and founding chairman, IOCARIBE Group of Experts on Ocean Processes and Climate.
Just three years after his arrival at Florida Tech, Maul was named the College of Engineering Teacher of the Year by the Florida Tech Student Government Association.
A cascade of other awards at Florida Tech and beyond followed. Among them: Maul and his NASA-funded Earth Systems Science Education team received the Faculty Senate Excellence Award for Teaching in 1998; in 2010, he was presented the U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award; in 2012, he won the College of Engineering Faculty Excellence Award for Service; and in 2015, he won the Faculty Senate Excellence Award for Service.
Maul and his wife, Carole, have been married for 58 years. They have two daughters, Anne Richards and Patricia Maul, a son-in-law, Robert Richards, and a grandson, Christopher Maul, who is also an Eagle Scout with whom Maul relished a decade of scouting together.
The Mauls have lived in Norfolk, Virginia; Ellsworth, Maine; Seattle; Jacksonville, Florida; Coral Gables, Florida; south Miami; and Melbourne Beach, Florida.
Weeks before his passing, Maul reached out to the university regarding the status of his “Maritime Heritage Collection,” a variety of celestial navigational tools that he had donated for display and to teach students how navigation, ship travel, stargazing, etc., were done before modern technology.
That day, major gift officer Shelley Johnson and ocean engineering and marine sciences administrative assistant Dee Dee Van Horn installed Maul’s collection—calling a very accommodating Maul several times throughout the process to ensure they got it right—in his custom-made display cabinet on the third floor of the Link Building.
When he received photos of the final display, Maul was very pleased.
Funeral arrangements are pending and will be shared when finalized. The funeral will be limited to only family members and immediate friends. However, the service will also be shared via Zoom and Facebook Live.
Maul will be cremated, and his ashes will be buried in the memorial garden at Saint Sebastian’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Melbourne Beach.
In lieu of flowers, tax-deductible donations are welcome for the Maul Family Student Scholar Award in Oceanology, Office of Development, Florida Institute of Technology, 150 W. University Blvd., Melbourne, FL, 32901.