February 7, 2023
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Westmont College alumnus mourned after UCLA shooting


William Klug

William Klug

A Westmont College alumnus was the victim of an apparent murder-suicide at UCLA on June 1 in a dispute over intellectual property.

William Klug, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCLA, was killed in the shooting which left Klug, 39, and the shooter, Mainak Sarkar, dead.

Sarkar was a former graduate student at UCLA and, according to authorities, left a note at the scene saying he killed Klug after the professor gave some of Sakar’s intellectual property to another student.

Sarkar killed Klug in his office in a building called Engineering IV before killing himself.

Klug graduated from Westmont in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics and completed a master’s degree at UCLA and a doctorate at Cal Tech.

Westmont College President Gayle Beebe said in a statement June 2 that the school was shocked by Klug’s death.

“We’re deeply saddened by this tragic news and send our condolences to his wife, Mary Elise, also a Westmont graduate, and their family,” Beebe said.

Westmont physics professor Ken Kihlstrom remembered Klug as a gentle, kind person without a trace of arrogance, the school said in a statement. Kihlstrom also said Klug was an excellent student who conducted student research with two professors during his time there.

“He stayed connected to Westmont after he graduated, attended our Summer Research Symposium each year — he was the featured speaker one year — and also spoke in class occasionally.”

Klug said in a 2004 Westmont Magazine article that the school helped him open his eyes to the wonders of science.

“My young, naive, and parent-based beliefs went through a transformation,” Klug told Westmont Magazine at the time. “I basically chucked everything I knew and began to think and reason carefully. Eventually I made my faith my own. I ended up where I had started, but with a much deeper understanding.”

He even told the magazine that Westmont gave him a place where he could find that God and science can be used as a tool from God.

“Knowing there is a God responsible for the world makes a big difference in my motivation to understand it better,” Klug told the magazine. “It helps me keep things in the right perspective.”

• Contact Philip Joens at pjoens@pacbiztimes.com.