AS HE MANAGES THROUGH THE PANDEMIC, PRESIDENT DAVID FITHIAN ’87 IS PREPARING TO UNMASK A BOLD NEW FUTURE FOR CLARK.
INSIDE: The Long Goodbye | Writing with Beyoncé | From Survivor to Savant
As he manages through the pandemic, President David Fithian ’87 is preparing to unmask a bold new future for Clark.
When his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Professor Stephen DiRado turned family pain into enduring art.
READY FOR CHANGE
THE LONG GOODBYE
IMPACT OF GIVING Campaign Clark was the most ambitious and successful comprehensive campaign in Clark University history. Find out just how successful.
‘I NEED TO SHARE THIS STORY’ Through her guided tours, Carolyn MichaelBanks ’79 has devoted her career to unveiling the untold histories of Black America.
DEPARTMENT S Red Square The pandemic fight takes a (Clark) village. Change-makers, from sea to sewing machine.
Clarkives He survived Hiroshima and brought prosperity to his country.
Sports In COVID, Clark athletes faced their most unpredictable opponent.
Final Say Nana Afriyie, M.A./CDP ’10, helps Beyoncé roar.
Alumni News Thomas Hicks ’93 instills confidence in the election process.
The people running the elections are not bureaucrats in Washington. They’re your next-door neighbors.
56 Spring 2021
Jade Consalvi ’22 conducts an experiment in Professor Arshad Kudrolli’s physics lab to measure the amount of aerosols released when a person is on a ventilator. Read more about Kudrolli’s COVID research on page 4.
PRE SIDENT ’S ME S SAGE
Dear fellow alumni and friends, I am delighted to be writing to you as the 10th president of Clark University, and as a proud alum. Thank you for all your wellwishes and words of encouragement since I began at Clark last July — your outreach has been a tremendous source of inspiration and assurance for me as we’ve tackled substantial challenges and pursued new opportunities in the fall and spring semesters, with more to come. One of our greatest challenges, of course, is the pandemic, which has disrupted everything we do, including our ability to gather in person. I very much regret that I’ve been unable to hit the road over the last 10 months to meet with you, something I’d anticipated as one of the great joys of this job — and still do. I’ve enjoyed connecting with many of you through Zoom events, but virtual interactions are a pale substitute for face-to-face conversations. When it’s finally safe to share physical spaces with one another, I’ll be more than ready to take full advantage of the opportunity. These strange and isolating times have convinced me how truly important it is to stay connected as a community. More than 35,000 Clark alumni throughout the world departed campus on commencement day to pursue lives and careers of purpose and accomplishment, and no two paths are the same. I want to know where life has taken my fellow Clarkies, and how your individual and distinct stories intersect with our shared Clark narrative. When you have a moment, please write us at email@example.com with any information you’d like to share. I would love to hear about your professional achievements, your Clark experience, and your hopes and ideas for the University’s future. I’m open to all feedback, and that includes criticism. If you think we can be doing things better, tell us how. Thank you again for your support. I am honored and privileged to be leading our wonderful University, and I look forward to meeting you soon. Sincerely,
DAVID FITHIAN ’87
Clark researchers clear the air on COVID spread
N SIMPLER TIMES, when someone sneezed, the common
response from those nearby was a polite “Gesundheit.” Today, if someone sneezes, the room empties out faster than you
can say “pandemic.” That’s because the COVID-19 virus is mainly spread through respi-
ratory droplets or small particles that are produced when an infected person sneezes, coughs, talks, or breathes — so-called expiratory events. While the aerodynamics of such droplets have been the focus of many studies, little is known about the journey of these expelled droplets and where they come to rest. Arshad Kudrolli has worked to change that. The Clark physics professor received a $200,000 grant for Rapid
Response Research from the National Science Foundation Division of
and droplets are dispersed by patients on supplemental oxygen.
Materials Research to examine transmission rates, explore ways to
McGee approached Kudrolli about the study after learning of the pro-
mitigate risk, and suggest strategies to avoid another pandemic.
fessor’s COVID-19 transmission research from a newspaper article.
Through this research, Kudrolli and his team study not only how respi-
The researchers outfitted a medical mannequin with a mechanical
ratory droplets move through the air during normal expiratory events,
lung controlled by a ventilator to simulate human breathing, with fog
but also how the virus-laden particles may affect health care provid-
drawn into the lung and exhaled through the mannequin’s mouth and
ers when exhaled by patients using oxygen-delivery devices.
nose. The team then used green lasers and a flood light with back-
The latter study, which Kudrolli says is the first of its kind, led him to
lighting to illuminate the fog, tracking how aerosols and droplets
recommend that patients on supplemental oxygen be outfitted with
travel under various conditions, and captured images using a high-
face masks to better protect caregivers.
“The work we’ve done has illuminated how far exhalations travel and can affect people where they’re standing,” he explains. To better understand how mucosalivary droplets are distributed on
oxygen delivery devices.
surfaces after expiratory events, Kudrolli and students Brian Chang, a
“Typically, what happens is when patients are put on these devices,
postdoctoral researcher in Kudrolli’s lab, Ram Sharma ’19, M.A. ’20,
the exhalations are traveling straight ahead or to the side. This is
and Trinh Huynh ’21 spent several months tracking the movement of
where a caregiver is located. Our idea was that we would put a simple
particles through the air. That research led Kudrolli to collaborate with
surgical mask [on the patient], very lightly, so that it would deflect the
Dr. William McGee, MHA ’97, a critical care doctor at Baystate Medical
exhalation backward and away from the faces of these caregivers,”
Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, on a second study to investi-
Kudrolli explains. “That was something very concrete that our work
gate how aerosols and droplets are exhaled from patients on breath-
has been able to demonstrate for the first time. We not only illustrated
ing devices, such as simple face masks or nasal cannulas.
the problem, but we came up with a solution that can be carried out
In the first study, the team used a mechanical spraying device implanted inside a mannequin face that emitted mucosalivary droplets during a simulated sneeze.
everywhere across the world very simply.” McGee says virtually every patient admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 is given supplemental oxygen, adding that masking the pa-
The researchers found that the six-foot guideline for social distanc-
tient helps protect not only hospital workers, but other caregivers
ing is effective, but time guidelines should also be followed because
including firefighters and EMTs. This same technique can also be ap-
droplets may linger in the air for several seconds or longer after an
plied to help control the spread of other infectious respiratory dis-
expiratory event, according to Chang.
eases like tuberculosis, he says.
“Masks are effective, even if they aren’t perfect,” Chang says. “That was our most important finding.” During the second study, Kudrolli and students Anton Deti ’22 and Jade Consalvi ’22 collaborated with Dr. McGee to study how aerosols
The study revealed that health care workers can help control the spread of virus-laden particles by placing a simple medical mask over
“At this point in the pandemic,” McGee says, “we cannot overemphasize, especially in underresourced parts of the world, how this simple strategy will be effective and ultimately save lives.” - Aviva Luttrell
CLARK. The world around us has changed, and Clark is changing with it. But our mission — to provide our students with a strong, hands-on liberal arts education so they can challenge convention and change our world — remains the same.
We are still Clark. Still providing an accessible and affordable education. Still creating a robust student experience. Still transforming the lives of our students. Still preparing our students for life after Clark. We are still committed to providing a life-changing educational experience to all of our undergraduate and graduate students, but we can’t do it without the support of our community.
This year, more than ever, we hope you will make an impact on our students and faculty by making a gift to The Clark Fund.
Ways to Give • Use the envelope in this magazine to mail a check made payable to Clark University. • Visit us online at alumni.clark.edu/magazine. • Call 888-257-5363 to make your gift by credit card. For more information on ways to give, including through securities or IRA transfer, please call 508-421-3716.
Executive Editor JILL FRIEDMAN Editor-in-Chief JIM KEOGH Associate Editor MELISSA LYNCH ’95, MSPC ’15 Design KAAJAL ASHER Writers ANGELA BAZYDLO AVIVA LUTTRELL Photography
CLARK IS EMERGING IN MANY WAYS
omeday, we will produce a Clark magazine that does not include the words “pandemic,” “positivity rate,” “mask,” or “Zoom.” Today is not that day. Though we are making progress, thanks to the vaccine rollout and declining infection rates, COVID-19 continues to shadow everything we do, just as it has for the past year. I know you must be tired of reading about this unwanted guest that has taken up residence in our lives and refuses to vacate — I share your exhaustion. Unfortunately, the pandemic will remain perched on our shoulder while we tell the Clark story, until we finally can swat it away. Fortunately, we have good stories to tell. In our cover profile of President David Fithian ’87, he cites his history of beginning new jobs under difficult circumstances. Given that he returned to lead Clark in the middle of a lockdown, his record in that regard is unblemished. To his credit, and to Clark’s benefit, President Fithian also has a track record of overcoming early challenges to achieve bold things, and once you’ve read about his vision for Clark, I guarantee you’ll feel excited and energized about the University’s future. Last February, just before the pandemic forced the closure of campus, professors Stephen DiRado (photography) and Soren Sorensen (film) screened a documentary, titled “With Dad,” for a standing-room-only crowd inside Dana Commons. The film is based on Stephen’s photo book, which lovingly and honestly chronicles his father Gene’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on his family. I certainly remember the impact on that night’s attendees, many of whom were moved beyond measure, perhaps in recognition of a friend or family member who has similarly suffered. We’re honored to publish a collection of Stephen DiRado’s powerful photos in this magazine, and to let them teach us about Gene. Carolyn Michael-Banks ’79 named her Memphis-based sightseeing tour company A Tour of Possibilities for good reason. Her aim is to frame the city’s history through the overlooked contributions and sacrifices of its African American citizens — something she’s done in other cities as well, including Washington, D.C. As you’ll discover in her profile, these slices of information and inspiration are central not only to the African American experience, but to the American experience writ large. Finally, a humble brag. Clark magazine recently earned the Gold Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. We were up against some solid competition in New England and Canada, so we’re pleased and proud. Thank you for giving us much great material to work with, and thank you for reading.
STEVE KING Vice President for University Advancement JEFFREY H. GILLOOLY Executive Director of Alumni and Friends Engagement KEVIN WESLEY Athletics Reporting KYLE PRUDHOMME Contributing Photographer STEVE JONES Contributing Illustrator SARAH HANSON Printed by Flagship Press, Inc. Address correspondence to: firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to: Jim Keogh Clark University Marketing and Communications 950 Main St. Worcester, MA 01610 Letters to the editor are more than welcome — they’re celebrated.
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Visit ALUMNI.CLARKU.EDU, the online community for Clark alumni, family, and friends.
Chief Lauren Misale commits to leading with compassion After 12 years as a member of the Clark University Police Department — as an officer, then a sergeant — Lauren Misale was named chief last fall, succeeding longtime chief Stephen Goulet, who retired after 31 years. Misale holds a criminal justice degree from Curry College and a master’s in public administration from Clark. She teaches a range of criminal justice courses at Quinsigamond Community College and Anna Maria College, and was an instructor at Bay Path University. Misale leads a department still dealing with the aftermath of last year’s police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Black Student Union and supporters are seeking substantial changes in how campus safety is maintained. In response, President David Fithian created the Task Force on Campus Safety and Security, comprising students, faculty, and staff from across the University to examine Clark’s police practices and overall approach. The Task Force on Campus Safety and Security
Once the task force completes its review, it will
What originally brought you to Clark?
is expected to finish its work by the end of the
make formal recommendations about how to
From the time I was a teenager growing up in
spring semester. Misale, who oversees a roster
change the way we provide and manage campus
Worcester, I knew I wanted to be a police officer. I
of 11 full-time officers, is eager to receive and
safety and security.
was looking at positions in the Worcester Police
assess the task force’s feedback as she and her officers consider how best to move forward.
Can you explain the goals of the task force? What do you hope it will achieve?
I want to find out where University Police is
Department, when I found out Clark was hiring. I
doing well, and where we can improve. Most
even got a call from Steve Goulet. When I found
importantly, how can we better serve our
out the benefits that came with a position at
community? What do students, faculty, and staff
Clark — especially tuition — I withdrew my
need that we’re not providing?
application from the Worcester department. Education is central to who I am. I figured I would stay at Clark for a few years while I got my
The first job is to review Clark’s current policing
How do you feel about the spotlight being shone on CUPD?
practices. This will involve hosting facilitated
I’m approaching this entire process with an
department. But every time I was notified about
forums to gather input from members of the
open mind. All the officers have already
joining the next Worcester Police Academy class,
campus community, and exploring alternative
completed enhanced anti-bias and de-
my gut wasn’t there and I stayed. I love Clark.
policing models, including some that have been
escalation training. We’ll reimagine our
implemented successfully at other universities.
responses, and I know we must build a better
Did Chief Goulet give you any advice?
One option could be to hire a small staff of
relationship with our community, especially
He is an extremely compassionate individual.
civilians to respond to calls where a law
students. We’ll listen, understand our
That’s how he led, and that’s what he taught me:
enforcement presence is not needed, such as
differences, and make sure everyone on the
Always lead with compassion, always listen, and
residence hall lockouts, and to help enhance
Clark campus knows that we’ll always be here
be open-minded. And he saw law enforcement
community engagement. The data gathered by
for them, no matter what.
was changing, so we need to be able to change
the task force will be used to inform our decisions about new policing models.
master’s, then would move to a bigger
with it. — Melissa Lynch ‘95, MSPC ‘15
in the media
Clark’s COVID protocols earn attention he media routinely contacted Clark throughout the academic year to gauge
the University’s progress in keeping the campus community protected from the coronavirus. Media interest was especially intense in the fall, when colleges and universities across the country were thrust into the unfamiliar situation of providing a safe and productive learning environment during a pandemic. The Boston Globe reported on Clark’s protocols, including the use of The Broad Institute to
process COVID-19 tests. NBC 10 Boston interviewed graduate students SAMIUDDHA SURYAVANSHA, RAVI PATEL, LEI SONG, and DIVESH GUPTA, who lauded the University’s mandatory contact tracing procedures and the accommodations set aside for students who should need to isolate or quarantine. In the fall semester, The Washington Post published a story under the headline “The fall
opening of colleges: Upheaval, pandemic weirdness and a fragile stability.” In it, SARAH O’BRIEN ’21 shared details about Clark’s rigorous testing schedule, mask-wearing requirement, and efforts to de-densify classrooms. “Some of my professors will joke that class is the safest place to be,” O’Brien told the Post. “I think I’d go crazy if I was at home.” The Washington Post article with O’Brien’s quotes was republished in The Hour (Conn.), San Antonio Express-News, and appeared on MSN.com. JACK FOLEY, vice president for government and community affairs and the leader of Clark’s COVID-19 response efforts, told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and other outlets that testing and compliance were the keys to success. President David Fithian reiterated this sentiment in a Politico article headlined “Campus life sans Covid: A few colleges write the playbook for pandemic success,” noting, “We absolutely could not pull this off without rigorous testing.” From mid-August through December 4, the University conducted more than 85,000 tests with only 44 positive test results. As of this writing, another 30,000+ tests have been conducted. Positivity numbers have been regularly published throughout the fall and spring semesters on the Healthy Clark Dashboard, earning a shout-out in University Business magazine, which reported that Clark’s dashboard received an “A” from the medical experts at the We Rate Covid Dashboards website for its thoroughness and clarity.
red square INSIDE
COVID campus | From sea to sewing machine | A dream meme | Oh, the horror!
PHOTO BY STEVEN KING
Clark takes on the COVID challenge for a new semester
BY JIM KEOGH n a normal year, the challenges of opening
and operating a college campus are plentiful. In the age of COVID-19, they are simply extraordinary. Enhanced sanitation, revamped dining, rigorous
testing protocols, and the many behavioral modifications — from mask wearing to social distancing — necessary to protect health and safety were key to Clark’s successful Fall 2020 and are just as important in Spring 2021. Clark launched
Christopher Williams, Chief Health Officer Dennis
campus and in Worcester began to creep upward.
the spring semester on February 22 with remote-
Keefe, and the Health Advisory Board for drilling
Nevertheless, Clark ended the semester with an
only classes and reopened campus on March 5,
into the science and public health data so Clark
enviable set of numbers: 85,747 COVID tests
using the lessons learned in the fall to create a
could make informed decisions on measures
administered, 44 total positive results, and a
roadmap for the new academic season. In-person
ranging from ventilation improvements and
0.058% positivity rate, one of the lowest among
operations were delayed (the original reopening
masking requirements to the merits and risks of
colleges and universities in the state.
date was February 18) to allow the virus’s levels to
continue to decline in Worcester before bringing
The three-month break between the fall and spring semesters was scheduled by design, the
fashion, people came together,” Foley says. “We
result of a far-sighted decision made last summer
don’t have a big staff and we don’t have our own
to push the spring starting date into late February
community relations, has led Clark’s COVID
medical school at our disposal, but we pulled
— to avoid the predicted “second wave” of the
efforts since last June, when far less was known
together a really good team from every facet of the
virus this winter. The hiatus was supplemented
about the virus. He recalls that during the early
University, including faculty and staff. People
with a Winter Intersession, during which Clark
days of the pandemic, more attention was given
brought their expertise to the table to guide us in
offered online classes and other virtual events
to the transmission of the virus on surfaces, like
the right direction. We put aside our egos, admitted
that gave students opportunities to learn new
railings, mail, and even groceries, rather than
when we didn’t know the answers, and leaned on
skills and engage with campus socially and
through the air.
each other for discussion and consensus.”
students, faculty, and staff back to campus. Jack Foley, vice president for government and
“There was either little information or
“The most important thing is that in typical Clark
Last fall, the University ended in-person
One course, offered both in the summer and
conflicting information, and there certainly was no
instruction on November 16, a week earlier than
winter, faced the complexities and challenges of
roadmap,” he says. He credits Geography Professor
planned, as positive COVID test results both on
the pandemic head-on. The half-credit,
interdisciplinary course for first-year students,
participate virtually in clubs and organizations,
campus, and 86 percent of students did come
“Pandemic: From Horror to Hope,” was the
internships, and events that in a normal year
back to continue their studies in person.
brainchild of Professor Doug Little and involved the
would be held face-to-face. And while the
efforts of 12 faculty members from an array of
pandemic forced the cancellation of Spree Day for
headed into May,” Foley says. “The warmer weather
disciplines — history to biology, philosophy to
the second consecutive year, students have been
is our friend as well, because it has allowed us to
screen studies — who became known as “the
given opportunities to relax, recharge, and have
move more activity outdoors.”
COVID posse.” Through Zoom “town halls,” the
some fun on three scheduled Wellness Days.
teaching team offered valuable context about the
Foley was optimistic entering the spring
“Increased vaccinations were a good sign as we
Clark continues to maintain a daily dashboard that not only reports the number of positive
unusual and unsettling experience being shared by
semester. Clark’s rigorous COVID-testing regimen
results, both on campus and in Worcester, over
the Clark community and helpful perspectives on
— students are tested every three days, staff and
seven- and 30-day increments, but also lists the
the way forward.
faculty every seven days — and adherence to the
number of students who have been placed in
By course’s end, noted Julia Kennedy ’24, “not
safety measures specified in The Clark Commitment
isolation and quarantine spaces. The dashboard,
only is it shown that yes, there is hope and an end
were bulwarks against the virus throughout the fall.
as well as weekly Healthy Clark updates and
for COVID-19, but there is hope for this nation. We
The best practices from that semester were
regular forums led by David Fithian for Clark
have seen that through the horror that comes with
redeployed for spring, with necessary adjustments
employees, students, and families, keep
pandemics, a community emerges. We have each
made as new information arises.
communication channels open, help ensure
other to fight this.” Clark students have been both flexible and
As in the fall, courses have been taught in three different modalities: fully in-person, fully remote,
transparency, and build trust. “We want people to be confident that we’re
resilient under unprecedented circumstances, and
and a hybrid of in-person and remote. Students
making thoughtful, well-reasoned decisions,” Foley
have exhibited an admirable willingness to
had the choice about whether to return to
says, “and that above all, we’re paying attention.”
Mycology class puts the ‘fun’ in fungi The 6.4-acre Hadwen Arboretum, within walking distance of campus, continues to offer a fertile location for student and faculty fieldwork in the natural sciences. Biology Professor David Hibbett, a leading expert in the area of mycology — the study of fungi — has made substantial use of this outdoor classroom/lab, particularly for his Biology of Mushrooms course. Last semester, he brought students into the Clark-owned arboretum several times to identify and culture some of the thousands of varieties of fungi and hundreds of species of mushrooms — from edible species like the oyster mushroom to the highly toxic Amanita bisporigera, more commonly known as the “Destroying Angel.” Sofie Irons ’23 grew up hearing stories from her grandmother about foraging for mushrooms as a child, and wanted to learn how to hunt for mushrooms herself.
“If you’re going to be eating them, you need at least three different sources to confirm you have what you’re looking for,” she explains. Hibbett says he’s seen an increasing number of students arrive at Clark with an
interest in mycology. In addition to the growing popularity of foraging, people also are using fungi for artwork, packaging materials, and bioremediation, among other applications. Hibbett is currently serving on the Scientific Advisory Board of MycoWorks, a company that makes leather-like material out of fungal mycelium — the thread-like structures of fungi. “Mushrooms are having this major cultural moment,” he says. “They’re just inherently cool organisms.”
It wasn’t exactly Publishers Clearing House, but in early March, Grace Kulhanek ’24 was honored as the recipient of the 100,000th COVID-19 test administered at Clark. “I’m glad that I can do my part to keep the community safe during the pandemic,” said Grace, who’s pictured inside Clark’s testing facility.
STUDENT PLAY FLOATS A FRESH IDEA Things are looking up for Brett Iarrobino ’21. Way up. The Clark senior was named a national finalist for the John Cauble Award for Outstanding Short Play by the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and the Dramatists Guild of America. In January, he staged a reading of his work, “Talking (Air)Heads,” at the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. The theatre arts and English double major wrote the one-act piece, which takes a playful look at the inner life and existential dread of birthday party balloons, during the Clark University Players Society’s fourth annual 24-hour playfest, Play-in-a-Day 2020. Iarrobino was drawn to a series of photographs by Xuemeng Zhang ’20 of ornately decorated balloons — and decided to bring two of the subjects to life. “I really loved these beautiful pink and green balloons, and I wanted them to talk,” he recalls. “I tried not to be too heavy-handed with the concept and treated it as any other play I’d written before — having the characters talk on stage as three-dimensional beings that have wishes, wants, and desires.”
Clark loans a work of history If you visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, you’ll spot a bit of Clark among its displays. The museum is currently borrowing the University’s copy of “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral,” a rare, first-edition volume, housed in Goddard Library’s Archives and Special Collections, of work by Phillis Wheatley Peters — considered by many to be the mother of African American literature. The poems were written while Wheatley Peters was enslaved in a Boston household in the 1760s, and the publication of the volume led to her self-emancipation. Clark Archives and Special Collections received its copy of “Poems” in the early 1970s through a gift from Mrs. Winifred Gates, widow of Professor Burton N. Gates, says University Librarian Laura Robinson, who arranged for the volume to be transported to Houston. An art–moving company that specializes in transporting rare, unique, and fragile materials “built a custom enclosure for it to be shipped safely,” Robinson explains. It is being displayed as part of the reopening of the Houston museum’s American wing and will be on loan for one year, under the care of the museum’s paper and book conservators.
Oh, the horror!
hat do you do when a real-life horror show
halts the production of your fictional horror movie? You surmount the challenge, find a way to finish
your film, and then you premiere it on Halloween. A more fitting ending couldn’t be scripted. Such was the case for the Clark students in the
Genre Production Workshop, whose short horror film, “Meridian,” had its shooting schedule disrupted last spring by the COVID-19 pandemic. Several members of the cast and crew reunited over the summer to finish production at different locations across New England, with crew members getting tested for COVID-19 beforehand and maintaining social distance on set. The picture, starring Maddie Thomas ’20 as a young woman begin stalked by a blackmailer, was directed by Jack Rooney ’21 and written by Kailey McIlwrath ’20. It debuted with a Halloween screening on the Clark campus green, followed by a Q&A session with the crew. “Making art during a pandemic is really important, and we all poured so much time and energy into it,” Thomas says. “It would’ve been really tough to not
Jack Rooney ’21, Kailey McIlwrath ’20, and Maddie Thomas ’20 put the finishing touches on “Meridian.”
have any resolution to it.”
Change-makers, from sea to sewing machine Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Clark students continued to find ways to make their presence known in the world through research and entrepreneurship that displayed their grit and ingenuity. Here are three we learned about this year.
Building a COVID-battling tool Health experts continue to stress the importance of social distancing and wearing face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19. To help the public understand just how impactful these preventative measures can be, NIPURNA DHAKAL ’22 interned with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative to develop a virus response simulator that visualizes transmission rates under various scenarios. “It’s a great tool to visualize how COVID transmission is happening and how different measures can limit the spread of the virus,” says Dhakal, who is majoring in mathematics and computer science. Dhakal worked to help develop and improve the simulator — maximizing its speed and efficiency, improving data visualization, and adding new scenarios to make the program
more realistic and user-friendly. The tool, which is available to the public, allows users to select the number of “agents” — or people — in each scenario, as well as the percentage of face coverings, social distancing, contract tracing, and other precautions used within that population. The simulator reveals rates of exposure, infection, recovery, and death among the agents. Dhakal was originally hired to assist a team of video game developers in the creation of an Ebola virus simulator, but the project was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, he was able to shift gears to join the group working on the COVID-19 simulator. “It was amazing because COVID hit exactly at that point,” he says. “It gave me the opportunity to work for something and help reduce the spread of the virus. That’s something I’m very grateful for.”
Creating clothes that last ... and last LILAH FEITNER ’22 has been sewing regularly since she was 7 years old, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she decided to turn her hobby into a full-time venture. Feitner received funding through a LEEP fellowship grant last spring and began upcycling clothing — taking old garments and transforming them into new pieces. By the end of August, she’d launched a genderless clothing brand, Spinout Apparel, along with a podcast, “The Upcycled Mentality,” which explores sustainability within the fashion industry. “The sustainability part of it has always been natural for me because I grew up thrifting a lot and never felt the need to spend money on new material,” Feitner says. “All of this clothing that I made, I wanted to ensure that I was marketing it directly as it is — clothing that is not limited by traditional male and female gender.” A double major in media, culture, and the arts and studio art, Feitner says the project allowed her to combine many of her interests, including fashion, art, sustainability, and media. Her first clothing release, the Splice Collection, featured a color-block theme with
the slogan “this way out” printed on each piece, accompanied by an arrow pointing upward. She says the design serves as a reminder that you have control of your own reality — the only place you can get stuck is in your head. The Splice Collection consists of 18 pieces, including shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, and pants, which Feitner designed to dissolve the boundaries of gendered clothing — a characteristic she wanted to bring to the forefront of her brand. “One of my dreams is to become involved with a celebrity brand. If you can get in at that high level and get them to upcycle and be sustainable, that affects their entire fan base, what’s popular in fashion, and what people are going to try to replicate.”
No icebreaker needed When Arctic researchers embarked on a late-season cruise to the Bering and Chukchi seas off the coast of Alaska, they expected to find a biological system slowed down by cooling temperatures. Instead, they encountered an ocean that was buzzing with activity spurred by unseasonably warm water, with sea ice formation still weeks away. “Climate change is affecting the Arctic faster than the rest of the globe, resulting in huge implications for life in the ecosystem,” says Clark University Ph.D. student Clare Gaffey,
who was part of the small research team aboard the Norseman II, a converted king crab boat. “We were able to show what’s happening through the data we collected during this fieldwork.” Researchers from the National Science Foundation-funded Distributed Biological Observatory project have been sampling productive “hot spots” in U.S. Arctic waters since the late 1980s. The team typically sets sail in July, but this year’s group — which included researchers from Clark, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Observing Network — was delayed to October by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gaffey (pictured, center) collected samples for environmental DNA, a process that involves filtering seawater to later examine the genomic sequence and determine what types of animals are living in the locations where the ship stopped. She also helped researchers collect benthic organisms that live on the seafloor. This research will help scientists document changes in seafloor biomass as well as detect harmful algal blooms that are becoming increasingly frequent in Arctic waters. While sailing through these waters, researchers typically would have expected to encounter sea ice, but this year the region experienced one of the lowest levels of ice in recent history.
Through their research, the scientists determined that delays in sea ice formation are supporting uncommon late-season biological production. The team found the biomass of microalgae in the water column was unexpectedly high — not much lower than what’s often observed in the middle of summer under near 24-hour daylight. “It’s alarming,” Gaffey says. “In past years we would have needed an icebreaker to reach these areas, but aside from outrunning a few storms, these seas were readily accessible. It’s a clear sign of a changing Arctic.”
Bernie Sanders, honorary Clarkie It was, of course, inevitable that among the popular post-Inauguration memes of a mittened Bernie Sanders, some would feature a Clark setting. The Vermont senator was “seen” sitting in an otherwise empty Razzo Hall (awaiting a concert, perhaps?) and sharing a contemplative moment in Red Square with the Freud statue. Screen studies professor Hugh Manon, who teaches a course on Meme Culture and Comedy Theory, and who posted the meme of Sanders with Freud on the @ClarkUScreen Instagram account, noted, “If you want to talk with students about one thing they all know well, and will be eager to discuss, just bring up the subject of memes. In 2021, meme fluency is the ultimate form of pop-cultural currency.”
President David Fithian ’87 has returned to the school he loves with a vision for its transformation. And he’s working on a plan to make it happen. BY JIM KEOGH
DAVID FITHIAN IS NO STRANGER TO CHALLENGING BEGINNINGS. In his first six weeks on the job as assistant dean of freshmen at Harvard University, he encountered a flurry of serious incidents involving students that required his urgent intervention. His first year in administration at the University of Chicago paralleled the transition of a new president who was building and empowering a new leadership team. And last July, when Fithian took office as Clark University president, he did so amidst a fastmoving global pandemic that shook up nearly every academic and operational norm. In a series of early decisions he made as president, Fithian had to consider whether and how to reopen the campus for the fall semester. This was not a simple “yes or no” proposition. It required an extraordinary financial commitment to improve infrastructure, create a testing facility, and invest in online learning technologies. It also meant implementing strict protocols that dramatically curtailed students’ social interactions, canceling the fall and winter sports seasons, and making countless other adjustments and concessions to preserve health and safety.
David Fithian and Esther Jones, associate provost and dean of the faculty, make their way to a meeting across campus.
“I KNOW But Fithian’s history of early on-the-job challenges had prepared him to marshal his skills, trust his instincts, and lead in a way that benefits the institution he serves. “As each challenge comes, you build on what you’ve learned to guide your decision-making,” he says. “So while it’s absolutely true that as incoming president I did not expect to be helping manage Clark through a pandemic, you play the cards you’re dealt rather than bemoan the circumstances. “I know someday,” he adds with a smile, “I’ll look back and say that while this first year at Clark was tough, we’ve done some wonderful things.”
SOMEDAY,” HE ADDS WITH A SMILE, “I’LL LOOK BACK AND SAY THAT WHILE THIS FIRST YEAR AT CLARK WAS TOUGH, WE’VE DONE SOME
Last July, David Fithian, proud member of the Class of 1987, succeeded David Angel to become the 10th president in Clark’s 134-year history — the first alumnus to hold the position and cer18
tainly the first president to have been introduced to the University through a brochure. He received one in the mail during his senior year at Westlake High School in Thornwood, New York, as he was mulling where to continue his education. The brochure’s paper was high quality, the design was striking, and the promise that Clark was both rigorous and welcoming resonated more deeply with him than the come-ons from other colleges. Clark had decisively won the battle of first impressions. Fithian arrived on campus in 1983 intent on majoring in psychology and furthering his passion for graphic arts, art, and architecture (he eventually would major in sociology with an additional concentration in English). He discovered the brochure had been truthful and found a place that was inviting and open, but also one that challenged its students to be active participants in their own education and learn how to make the most of the opportunities presented to them. Clark students were not channeled into
prescribed pathways nor were they “categorized” — in the words of the University’s popular poster of the time depicting multicolored peas in a pod. They worked hard; they inquired and experimented. They figured things out. “There are lots of places where you show up and you let your education ‘happen’ to you,” he says. “I appreciated that Clark was not like that. It was practically a requirement for you to answer the question, ‘What do I want to get out of my Clark experience?’ To me, that made Clark distinct and special, and still does.” After graduating in 1987, Fithian earned his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from Yale, where his dissertation, “A Dark and Shining Stone: Symbol Contests and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” received the Theron Rockwell Field Prize, the first time a social science dissertation earned this distinguished literary award. And it was at Yale where he met Michael Rodriguez, a graduate student in clinical psychology who would become his husband and life partner (see sidebar). He worked in a number of research and academic positions — including lecturer at Yale and at the University of Connecticut (Stamford) — before joining Harvard in 1995, where for 12 years he held positions of increasingly elevated responsibility. As the Allston Burr Senior Tutor (Resident Dean) in Adams House he was responsible for the academic standing and personal well-being of 425 upperclass students. In his last position at Harvard, as associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Fithian oversaw all aspects of legislative affairs of the faculty. Louis Menand, a professor of English at Harvard, recalls Fithian’s deftness while acting as liaison between faculty and administration on the sensitive matter of introducing a new general education curriculum to the college. “He helped us negotiate the minefield. I trusted him completely and relied on his advice often in devising the new curriculum and in selling it. He was a rock. “In a sense, David’s experience and skills amounted to a trifecta: students, faculty, and administrators,” Menand says. “He understood them all and balanced their needs. If you throw in trustees, donors, and alums, that pretty much describes the role of a university president.” In 2007, Fithian joined the University of Chicago as secretary of the university. By 2014 he had risen to the position of executive vice president, where he oversaw strategic planning
“CLARK IS A WORLD-CLASS RESEARCH UNIVERSITY, AND WE NEED TO BELIEVE THAT WE ARE WORTH PAYING ATTENTION TO.”
for President Robert Zimmer, an especially close mentor, and led university efforts in an array of key areas including campus master planning, capital projects, the arts, governance, international centers, and the negotiation and stewardship of a number of major gifts to the university. Katie Callow-Wright, executive vice president and chief of staff in the Office of the President at Chicago, who succeeded Fithian, says Fithian’s most elegant skill may be his ability to recognize and cultivate talent, which allows him to build strong leadership teams. “David is a creative and open thinker who doesn’t shy away from a good argument, especially one that gets the best ideas onto the table and helps everyone work toward the most productive outcome,” Callow-Wright says. “He doesn’t put on airs about hierarchy, and he works across university boundaries in a way that’s truly exceptional. His brave authenticity is a hallmark of who David is as a person.”
On December 15, 2020, just before the winter break, David Fithian delivered his first State of the University Address to the Clark community via livestream. In it, he noted Clark’s history of providing a top-quality education on limited
resources by operating within a self-imposed “culture of austerity.” This approach, while laudable, is no longer sustainable, he insisted, and needs to evolve into a “culture of possibility” fueled by bold vision, strategic planning, and thoughtful investment in people, programs, and facilities that advance Clark’s mission and reinforce its shared values. Some discomfort and some risk will be involved, he cautioned, as Clark is compelled to adapt to a higher education landscape that may look substantially different than it did ten, or even five, years ago. It’s a theme Fithian continues to reiterate, and one that was central to his accepting the president’s position at his alma mater. “I am so appreciative of David Angel’s powerful and thoughtful leadership over the last ten years, and now I see an opportunity to build on the solid foundation he left me,” he says. “I took this job because I think I can make a difference for Clark. If the trustees had been looking for someone to manage the status quo, I would have been far less interested. But the board’s message to me was that Clark is ready for change.” Ross Gillman ’81, chair of the Clark Board of Trustees, notes that Fithian’s exemplary leadership since returning to Clark “during this remarkable and unique year” has further solidified the board’s conviction that he was the best person for the job. “When we invited David to join us as our 10th president, nobody could have foreseen the pandemic and other national conditions that he has had to deal with during the first year of his tenure,” Gillman says. “What we all could see were David’s enthusiasm for undertaking the transformative changes that our University needs. David has a deep understanding of the institution and its history, and is exceptionally strategic and consistent in how he approaches the issues facing not only Clark but higher education in general, all while still being measured and flexible in the implementation of his vision. “Perhaps even more importantly, David has diligently and successfully been building a strong and broad consensus of the steps that need to be taken and investments that need to be made, both now and in the coming years, to secure Clark’s position as a small but elite research university that also offers our undergraduates a preeminent liberal arts education.” Fithian has identified “areas of opportunity” that are informing the strategic framework Spring 2021
Clark sets a course to achieve the possible
N HIS DECEMBER 15 STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY ADDRESS, President David
boarding process for Clark’s new president, creating a 135-page comprehensive, living document, “Academic Units at Clark 2020.” President Fithian then consulted with faculty and academic leaders, including the Faculty Assembly, Faculty Executive Steering Committee, Research Board, Provost's Leadership Team, and leaders of the research centers, institutes, and interdisciplinary programs. The “Academic Units” document has provided a bridge to the campus’s development of the Strategic Framework.
Fithian noted that Clark University has long accomplished impressive things
The Clark framework is inspired by the institution’s rich heritage, parti-
despite limited resources, an effort that is admirable and unselfish, but one
cularly its shared mission and values; it expands and elevates the University’s
that is ultimately unsustainable.
aspirations, and empowers the University to fulfill them. Toward that goal,
“The more we say ‘We can’t do that,’ the more it becomes a self-fulfilling
the administration has initiated an ongoing communitywide conversation
prophecy, to the point where ‘We can’t do that’ becomes ‘We won’t do that.’
to capture fresh ideas and consider new approaches for the institution’s
Clark has reached a critical juncture where our culture of austerity must give
way to a culture of possibility,” he said.
The origin of this work dates to the 2019–20 academic year, when the faculty’s Planning and Budget Review Committee spearheaded an on-
Over the winter break, David Chearo, vice president for planning and
Envisioning, shaping, and turning those possibilities into realities lies at
strategic initiatives, and Esther Jones, dean of the faculty, hosted the first
the heart of Clark’s newly launched comprehensive strategic planning pro-
in a series of visioning events with Clark faculty and staff to conceptualize
cess. Once completed, the University’s Strategic Framework will become
key elements of the University’s future with members of its community.
Clark’s reference for preparing students to live and work in a rapidly chang-
The most recent event in February explored the many ways the principles
ing world, supporting faculty in their research and creative endeavors, and
of diversity, equity, and inclusion will underscore and gird all of Clark’s stra-
positioning the University to thrive in an increasingly competitive higher
tegic planning and become an essential through line for the institution’s
“The turnout and energy from faculty and staff has been fantastic, and we look forward to similar opportunities with students,” said Chearo. “We could
S RAM OG R P IC
CAMP US EN VIR O
T EN NM
munity-wide collaboration on identifying our fundamental values and
AC AD EM
not move forward with planning and building Clark’s future without this com-
The current “Visioning” phase will transition to the “Focus” phase later in
the future. By fall, the Strategic Framework will clarify a shared mission, values, and vision; identify institutional goals and key performance indicators; and serve as a compass for decision-making and planning.
CAPACITY NAL TIO U TIT NS
hone the list of ideas, and then articulate and shape the University’s vision for
experts and stakeholders in crucial areas, Clark will begin to evaluate and
CULTURE AND IDE NT ITY
the spring and into the summer. In this stage of the process, working with
To develop the framework, Clark is focusing on five priority areas for new
programs, investments, and partnerships:
W A R D E N G AG E M E N
Academic Programs Foster excellence by leveraging traditional strengths, encouraging innovation, and finding synergistic opportunities to develop across departments and programs; build on Clark’s distinctive model of a small research university combined with a liberal arts college
Q Academic programs and research: Fostering academic excellence by leveraging traditional strengths and building new ones. Q Culture and identity: Ensuring Clark lives up to its values as an inclusive and equitable institution and nurtures a new, emboldened culture of
AMS GR RO P IC
CAMP US EN VIR O
T EN NM
Q Campus environment: Enhancing Clark’s physical plant to inspire and enable the best work of faculty, students, and staff.
AC AD EM
Q Outward engagement: Deepening ties and impact — from the Main
“We cannot simply take one on while ignoring the rest. We need to make
CAPACITY NAL TIO U TIT NS
“While each area is an important stand-alone priority, they are interanimating and interwoven as well,” Fithian said in the State of the University address.
Q Institutional capacity: Recruiting, retaining, and cultivating talent, and expanding resources to catalyze momentum.
CULTURE AND IDE NT ITY
South community to around the world — and amplifying Clark’s voice.
progress on all of these fronts to move forward boldly and purposefully.”
This first iteration of the framework will provide a basis for an ongoing
W A R D E N G AG E M E N
Culture and Identity Ensure an inclusive and equitable environment to support our diverse community, allowing everyone to thrive; bolster identity with a valuesdriven approach; promote a “culture of possibility”; encourage risk-taking to improve our standing in the competitive landscape
conversation as it evolves over time into a dynamic and vibrant resource. It will be fed through sustained feedback and contributions from the Clark community, and will be nimble enough to allow the University to respond to emerging needs and changing conditions. These might include global events,
capacity as well as its “capacity to aspire” at all levels, setting the foundation and crystallizing the next steps for a wide range of initiatives and investments,
S RAM OG R P IC
CAMP US EN VIR O
T EN NM
Throughout this process, the University will work to expand its financial
AC AD EM
economic shifts, policy mandates, or other issues affecting higher education.
from the long-range to the day-to-day. The effort will require intensive
additional resources we need to pave it,” he said. “I am confident of that, and I am absolutely convinced that our ability to make further investment begins with a palpable, invigorated, collective belief today in what is possible
CAPACITY NAL TIO U TIT NS
“Even during these extremely challenging times, if we set a bold new path for Clark, by virtue of its ambition alone, that path will help attract the
IDE NT ITY
its future, President Fithian insisted.
Amplify the Clark story beyond traditional audiences; exercise convening power; bring renewed focus to our deepen ties to the Main South community and Worcester
Managing through the pandemic, with all its financial strains and operational challenges, will not deter Clark from acting on the emerging vision for
collaboration and coordination across all areas of the institution.
W A R D E N G AG E M E N
Arriving at Clark, in full stride HEN DAVID FITHIAN AND HIS HUSBAND, MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ, made the decision to come to
Clark, they sensed it would be a perfect fit. They already knew, based on Fithian's personal experience as a student and alum, that Clark was an important institution with a long heritage of changing lives for David Fithian and Michael Rodriguez greet students following the January 13, 2020, program where he was introduced as Clark's new president.
the better. And, they felt confident that the Clark
“WE’RE A PLACE THAT BELIEVES WE
being developed by his leadership team, with substantial input from the campus community. The five areas — academic and research programs, campus environment, culture and identity, outward engagement, and institutional capacity — are being addressed in tandem to purposefully map out Clark’s future (see sidebar). Clark, he says, has reached an inflection point that requires strong and deliberate action to build upon its strengths and respond to the evolving challenges within the higher education marketplace. He points to Clark falling out of the top 100 in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, whose influence can be debated but not ignored, particularly at a time when competition for a dwindling pool of students has never been fiercer. “We ignore the rankings at our own peril,” Fithian says. “Higher ed is increasingly being viewed through the lens of consumerism, and students and their families are looking for value associated with their investment. There is no time to spare to address the elements within those ranking systems where we perform poorly.” He believes addressing these issues not only
CHALLENGE CONVENTION IN ORDER TO
community was hungry for the kind of change that would help to propel the university forward, deepen awareness and appreciation for all that is so special about it, and broaden the impact of its important mission. That combination created a strong tug that neither David nor Michael could resist. As Fithian has been settling into his role, Rodriguez too has been settling into his new routine. Since making the move east, Rodriguez has focused on setting up operations at Sylvan Farm in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, where he and Fithian are
raising seven Friesian horses. “Michael is an
to him,” Fithian says. “But he also has a magical
THAT MUST BE REFLECTED IN
incredibly warm human being, and people gravitate relationship with animals. He’s the kind of person who has dragonflies landing on his hand.” A Long Island native, Rodriguez studied biology and animal science at Cornell University, with the
goal of becoming a veterinarian. But his love for
AND THE LIVED
his junior year, then to pursue a career in the theater,
EXPERIENCES OF OUR
performance led him to transfer to Ithaca College in acting and singing in Off Broadway and summer stock productions throughout the 1980s. As the HIV/AIDS epidemic ravaged both the gay community and the arts communities, he considered
alternative professional paths that might prove more
science I’ve studied and loved with the creative and
meaningful. “I thought, ‘What combines the math and emotional aspects of the things I’ve done in my life?’ Psychology wrapped all of it into one.” He finished his undergraduate studies at Hunter College, then earned his master’s and doctoral
David Fithian and Michael Rodriguez at Sylvan Farm.
degrees in clinical psychology at Yale University,
might prove more beneficial both in the short and
surrounded by wild horses. It was one of the most
where he met Fithian through a mutual friend. The
magical encounters I’ve ever experienced.
two have now been together for just over 26 years
After Fithian became assistant dean of Harvard
“On the way back down the mountain, I asked
and were legally married on their 10-year anniversary
College, Rodriguez took over as dean of Adams
David, ‘Why don’t we have horses in our lives?’ and
House, helping 425-plus students navigate the
we soon decided that you can’t wait for your
challenges and complexities in their personal and
dreams to happen; that a decision to pursue them
doctoral clinical internship at Harvard Medical
academic lives. He also taught a seminar on the
always has to be consciously made.”
School/The Cambridge Hospital, Fithian was hired as
psychosocial aspects of HIV and AIDS, and a class on
assistant dean of freshmen at Harvard University,
human sexuality that was among the most popular at
in Indiana and welcomed their first two Friesian
and they made the move to Cambridge. Rodriguez
Harvard. When Fithian was recruited to Chicago,
fillies into their family. Rodriguez now balances
subsequently did his postdoctoral work at Harvard
Rodriguez joined the board of Chicago House, the
his support for Fithian’s work at Clark with
Medical School and the Massachusetts Mental
Midwest’s first HIV/AIDS service organization, a seat
operations on Sylvan Farm.
Health Center, where he was head of psychology on
he held for eight years.
In 1995, Rodriguez began a prestigious pre-
an in-patient schizophrenia-research unit. He worked
A love of horses was a constant in their lives.
Within a few months they bought their first farm
Despite the challenges from COVID-19, Rodriguez has learned a good deal about the
on a long-term study in which newly diagnosed
Whenever they vacationed, they sought
University and he’s impressed with and excited
patients were given medications that historically had
opportunities for horseback riding. But it was a 2018
about its ties to the Main South community, which
only been used with those who had exhausted other
hike to a friend’s mountainside ranch in San Miguel,
he likens to Yale’s connection to its New Haven
Mexico, that inspired them to pursue their long-
neighborhood and the University of Chicago’s to
standing dreams of owning a gentlemen’s farm and
the south side. “There’s clearly an understanding at
raising their own horses.
Clark of how important a university can be to a
“I worked with a lot of first-episode schizophrenia patients and their families. It’s a sad thing to see people struggling to understand what’s gone wrong
“I hiked to the top alone and came upon a small
community, and how vital it is to make sure people
with their brain,” he says. “But there was hope. Our
herd of wild horses who were clearly as startled to
are engaged and excited about that partnership,”
patients were at the beginning of their diagnoses and
see me as I was to see them,” recalls Rodriguez.
he says. “We’re happy to be part of it and eager to
we were testing whether a novel treatment protocol
“Then the leader came over, and suddenly I was
build upon it.”
will improve the rankings but ultimately will strengthen Clark. The president is encouraging key investments in all facets, from academics to facilities, that will require the University to shift its thinking out of the do-more-with-less mindset to consider bolder possibilities and to more vigorously trumpet its achievements while also preserving pride in the cherished aspects of the University’s identity. It’s a perspective that perhaps moves against the grain of the Clark character, where modesty traditionally has been the default setting. “Clark is a world-class research university, and we need to believe that we are worth paying attention to,” he says. “If we take the time and effort to work on this together, we’ll be pleased with the payoff. If we fall victim to lack of courage and try to overprocess everything so we’re not doing this in a timely way, we won’t get to where we need to be.” Attracting new resources to justify the risks and realize the possibilities falls on his shoulders, Fithian says. He wants to recruit “new friends” to join the University’s devoted core of alumni supporters and get them excited about what Clark already has achieved and what it is yet capable of accomplishing. “We need our alumni to reengage, not just financially, which is essential, but also to stay involved in the life of the University and contribute in other ways as well. But we can’t look only to our alumni — we need to expand our circle of friends and supporters.” “I believe we can make good on the promise of our greatest ideas,” he says. “But we will not attract interest with the promise we can make these things happen — only with the demonstrated ability to do so. We must show that we’re on the move.”
A month before the president’s first day on the job, four Clark students were arrested by Worcester Police during a protest of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In the aftermath, a number of students, most vociferously the Black Student Union, insisted that Clark’s efforts in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus had been sluggish and indifferent for many years. Fithian acknowledges that intensive improvement is needed to foster a more just and equitable Clark. To that end, he has committed $1 mil-
“IF WE TAKE THE TIME AND EFFORT TO WORK ON THIS TOGETHER, WE’LL BE PLEASED WITH THE PAYOFF.”
lion in resources toward a series of measures that include, among other things, introducing cultural competency and anti-racism training for staff, faculty, and students; filling new staff positions responsible for better supporting and recruiting marginalized students and students of color; and actively working toward a curriculum that makes the academic experience more inclusive and engaging. “This is a priority, not only because I believe it’s the right thing to do, but also because it is inextricably linked to who we say we are,” he says. “We are a place that believes we challenge convention in order to change the world, and that must be reflected in lived values and the lived experiences of our students and community members.”
The pandemic did not bring Clark to its knees. Far from it. The president’s leadership team and many working groups coalesced campus efforts around a fall semester whose most meaningful barometer of success was the health of the University community. By the numbers, Clark administered 85,747 COVID-19 tests over the course of the semester, which yielded 44 positive results. The favorable positivity rate of 0.058 percent was significantly lower than that of many colleges and universities across the country. Clark began the spring semester with remoteonly classes in late February and in-person operations resuming on March 10.
Still, every routine, every rhythm, of a typical academic year has been disrupted. Fithian had hoped to conduct a “listening tour” of students, staff, and faculty in the first months of his presidency and instead was unable even to walk across campus unmasked. Zoom meetings and virtual town halls have proved an unsatisfying compromise. He also regrets the lack of opportunity to forge in-person connections with alumni. “Our alumni haven’t gotten a chance to know me, and vice versa,” he says. “From those I’ve spoken with, I’ve heard tremendous stories about the transformative experiences they had here and their sense of excitement for what’s to come. As a fellow alum, that’s gratifying to hear.” Fithian is eager to move beyond campus to continue deepening Clark’s ties with the Main South community, an integral partnership that advances and empowers both the University and the neighborhood. “Our responsibility and commitment to Main South are paramount to who we are as an institution that wants to serve this city, and as a good neighbor to the people who live around us and among us,” he says. Last September, with students newly returned to campus and the pandemic on the march, Fithian attended a production of “Little Women,” staged by Clark Musical Theatre on the lawn outside the Little Center. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, and he and his fellow audience members sat, socially distanced, on blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the students’ adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s story about the March sisters grappling with issues of individual identity, personal integrity, and the desire to embrace new and exciting possibilities. “What resonated with me that day, besides the fact that we have some very talented actors and actresses at Clark, was the power of our community,” he recalls. “At that moment it didn’t matter that the event had been forced to be held outdoors, or that we wore masks. We weren’t going to be denied the opportunity to celebrate this incredible performance by our students.” In this year of the virus, when the challenges have gone from constant to cascading, the performance of “Little Women” under the September sun was an early glimmer that from yet another demanding beginning in the career of David Fithian, some wonderful things would emerge. Spring 2021
the long goodbye
of a good man
When his father was diagno s e d with Alzheimer ’s dis e as e , Profe ss or Stephen DiRado turne d family pain into en during ar t B Y
J I M
K E O G H
Stephen notıced the small changes first. His father, Gene, seemed to be pulling back at family gatherings, hovering at the fringes of conversations or disengaging entirely to go watch television by himself. He got lost driving to familiar destinations. At work, he was disorganized and confused. People noticed. That Gene’s cognitive decline was the result of Alzheimer’s disease came as no surprise when the diagnosis finally was made in 1998, after he’d exhibited uncharacteristically eccentric behavior for some time. The doctors only confirmed to Gene’s wife and children what they’d suspected: Gene was retreating into his own mind, a journey on which they could not accompany him and from which there would be no return. Stephen DiRado, a longtime professor of photography at Clark known for his naturalistic images of everyday life, had for years photographed his father for posterity’s sake, capturing Gene at work and in repose, with family and alone. The task now took on new urgency. He threw himself into documenting this unfolding odyssey through the camera lens, first while Gene still lived at home, then for five years after his father was moved into a nursing home — right up until the moment of Gene’s death. 28
Many of the photos have been collected in the recent book “With Dad,” which chronicles Gene’s decline. The story these images tell has also been adapted into an award-winning documentary, directed by Clark Screen Studies professor Soren Sorensen, that has been making the film festival circuit (see sidebar). Both the book and the film distill the DiRado family’s private pain but also supply glimpses of peace and acceptance, of vulnerability and grace — of life, death, and art.
Gene DiRado had always paid attention to appearances, especially his own. His goatee was neatly trimmed; his ties were the best silk; he smoked fine cigars. That dash of style set him apart from the other members of his extended blue-collar family, yet also endeared him to them. Gene managed a team of graphic artists at the Massachusetts Department of Public Works, where he crafted maps that helped orient both locals and visitors alike and fashioned illustrations trumpeting the virtues of state construction projects. Off hours, he played drums in a jazz band. “My dad,” Stephen says, “was pretty damn cool.” Gene taught Stephen to paint and draw, and sometimes brought him to his job in Boston. When Gene was busy, Stephen would wander the city, visiting museums and studying people just as he’d always studied his own family. (“They were different times,” he acknowledges. “I never felt unsafe.”) His dad would take him to lectures at the Boston colleges and bring him to an area observatory to stargaze until dawn. A shy kid who sometimes felt adrift amid his boisterous Italian-American clan, Stephen was exposed to the wider world with his father as his wise and gentle guide. The die was cast when Stephen was introduced to his dad’s stash of old cameras. Soon, Stephen was shooting everywhere, making art, scaffolding a career, finding his voice. By the age of 14, he was photographing for his hometown newspaper in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and sometimes would bike the 20 miles to Worcester for assignments in the city. When he graduated from high school, he was offered a full-time photography position at the paper. Gene was not amused.
“He said, ‘I will break your legs if you take that job,’ ” Stephen recalls with a laugh. “He told me I needed to go to college and get a degree because nobody can take that away from you.”
Since Gene DiRado was reserved by nature, the early clues that something was amiss were easily attributed to “Gene being Gene.” But his behaviors worsened. He seemed bored, depressed, incurious — his reticence to engage devolved into full-on withdrawal. One day, when Stephen asked him to count to 10, Gene abandoned the task after struggling to reach the number 4. Family members began caring for Gene in shifts. During his turns, Stephen noticed his father going into the bathroom with greater frequency and for longer durations, and reemerging without having run the faucet or flushed the toilet. He discovered his father had been staring at his reflection in the bathroom mirror without recognizing the man looking back at him. Intrigued, Stephen asked Gene what he thought of the stranger in the glass. “He is a good man,” Gene replied. The answer was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Gene had passed a threshold, his inward march growing more pronounced. The DiRados — Stephen, his mother, Rose, and his siblings, Gina and Chris — determined they could not care for Gene at home any longer and made the difficult decision to admit him to Marlborough Hills Rehabilitation & Health Care Center. Here, Stephen assumed the responsibility of chronicling the last years of his father’s life. Twice a week for five years, with the permission of the administration, Stephen lugged his 40-pound Roloflex box camera and tripod into Marlborough Hills to capture Gene on film. “To my father in those first few years, I was his son, Steve, with a camera. As the disease advanced, it was the camera that just happened to have Steve by its side. By the last few years, when I walked into the room, everything vanished. The camera didn’t exist. I didn’t exist. I watched him slowly erase the world around him and I disappeared, and the camera disappeared.”
Over time, Stephen became an unofficial artist-in-residence at Marlborough Hills. Staff members would wander over to him as he positioned his camera and ask, “Steve, what do you see today?” Once, as he rode the elevator with one of Gene’s nurses, she pointed out that his father had long exceeded the life expectancy of an Alzheimer’s patient. “You know why he’s still here, don’t you?” she asked. “It’s so his son can make great art.”
“Photographing my father was a way of controlling something,” Stephen recalls. “I would take a photo, go home and print it, and look at it. This was a frozen moment in time — something was going on right before my eyes. I couldn’t deny it, couldn’t lie to myself about it.” The photos in the latter stages of Gene’s life depict the terrible toll of the disease. The man is visibly shrunken in his wheelchair, nearly unable to keep his head upright. In his last month, he clutched a teddy bear during his waking hours. “I knew he would not be here much longer,” Stephen says. Gene died on December 11, 2009, surrounded by his children. Rose had been in Florida and was in hurried transit to Massachusetts to try and reach the nursing home in time. “In the final photo, I intentionally cast a shadow on the wall behind my sister to represent my mother’s presence,” Stephen remembers. “I told my father, ‘Dad, this body has failed you miserably. I love you dearly, but you need to move on to bigger and better things.’ I asked him if he understood me to please move his right foot back and forth three times, and he did.” In his preface to “With Dad,” Stephen DiRado wrestles with the question of why he photographed his father in the grip of Alzheimer’s. “I did it to hold on to my father as long as possible,” he writes. “I did it to record a disease that, I believe, in time will no longer be terminal. I did it as a visual, visceral record for future generations to see what devotion, heartbreak, and suffering looked like for victims of Alzheimer’s and for their families.
“I did it for my father.”
‘With Dad’ f ilm earns plaudits Clark Screen Studies Professor Soren Sorensen was seeking a topic for his master’s thesis when he asked colleague Stephen DiRado if he’d be interested in sitting for an interview. Sorensen thought DiRado’s photographic journal depicting his father Gene’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease might make a compelling short-subject documentary. “I responded to Stephen’s work viscerally,” says Sorensen, whose earlier documentary, “My Father’s Vietnam,” revisited his own father’s wartime experiences. “The decline and death of Stephen’s dad was such a powerful story, and the meticulous documentation of it made this an ideal project.” Sorensen’s film “With Dad” (sharing the name with DiRado’s book) won over juries and audiences at a host of film festivals in 2020, including the Rhode Island International Film Festival, the St. Louis International Film Festival, and the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, where it won Best Documentary. This past March, the film won two awards — for Best Short Documentary and Best Editing — at the 2021 Red Dirt Film Festival in Stillwater, Oklahoma. This June, “With Dad,” an official selection of the New York Independent Film Festival, was screened at the Producer‘s Club. As of this writing, Sorensen is planning acquisition deals with several PBS stations, including WGBH in Boston, which is holding a World Alzheimer’s Month broadcast premiere this September. For the film, DiRado was interviewed on camera over the course of two days in the summer of 2018, offering a firsthand account of the pain and process of capturing his father’s final years through photos. His testimony was vivid in its own right, but when DiRado revealed that his brother, Chris, had videotaped his interactions with Gene for much of that time, Sorensen knew he had something truly special. “We had all this contemporaneous footage that Chris had shot, and it would have been a sin to leave it out,” Sorensen recalls. A work-in-progress version of “With Dad” debuted to a standing-room-only audience at Dana Commons last February, just prior to the COVID outbreak. Before the screening, a box of tissues was passed around the room in anticipation of the emotional response it would provoke. The film was indeed met with tears, but also with laughter at some of DiRado’s recollections — and with applause from the crowd, a harbinger of its future success with festival audiences. “It’s odd timing for a subject like this right now,” Sorensen says. “Under this dark cloud of COVID, where people are suffering in so many ways, I knew a film like this would not be everyone’s cup of tea. But as we made it into some festivals, there was real interest, which I find incredibly moving and gratifying. Stephen and I are both so grateful for the response so far.”
THE IMPACT of GIVING CA M PA I G N C L A RK
A TIME FOR APPRECIATION AND ASPIRATION I AM DELIGHTED to share with you this overview of the most ambitious and successful comprehensive
campaign in Clark University history. On May 5, 2017, with great enthusiasm and optimism, and with the vision of then-President David Angel driving us, we embarked on the public phase of Campaign Clark to raise $125 million. When the campaign concluded on May 31, 2020, we had surpassed our original goal, raising $156,284,346 in an extraordinary display of generosity and commitment — a testament to the trust, the respect, and the love Clarkies have for their University. This is a time for celebration — for a round of applause that acknowledges our collective achievement in service to Clark, especially for the students who are poised to become the next generation of leaders in government and business, medicine and science, the arts and education. And while the pandemic does not allow us to gather in person to mark this historic occasion in fitting fashion, neither can it rob us of our shared sense of accomplishment and the spirit of community that supplied Campaign Clark its potency and its momentum. Your gift, and the gifts made by thousands of fellow donors, allows Clark to make meaningful investments in academics, research, capital improvements, and student support in the form of scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid. Many of you also devote your time and expertise to mentor students and provide them professional opportunities as they chart their career paths. All your contributions, in their many forms, fortify our efforts to always be a university of caring and consequence. Campaign Clark represents the tireless and creative efforts of many people, and I thank them all for their work on behalf of this very special institution. I especially want to thank David Angel and Campaign Clark co-chairs Bill Mosakowski ’76, L.H.D. ’12, Robert Stevenish, P ’86, L.H.D. ’19, and Tony Tilton, LL.D. ’13, whose leadership and counsel throughout the campaign were critical to its success. Our new president, David Fithian, also has been an avid campaign supporter, even as he develops his own vision and strategies for future Clark philanthropy. And a special thank you to faculty and staff, who have been steadfast supporters throughout the campaign. The Campaign Clark theme, “Now is our time,” has never been more appropriate than at this moment. Energized by new ambitions and strengthened with new resources, Clark is now empowered to advance its standing as a university whose students and faculty bring positive, lasting change to the world. And you made that happen. With my best wishes and deepest gratitude,
JEFF GILLOOLY Vice President for University Advancement Spring 2021
PER C EN TAGE OF TOTAL CAM PAIGN DOLLAR S R AIS E D BY AR E AS OF SUP P O RT
The Clark Fund
DONOR PART IC IPAT ION
THE POWER of YOUR GIVING Public phase launched May 5, 2017
$ OVERALL ACHIEVEMENT IN DOLLARS
16,600 TOTAL NUMBER OF DONORS
# OF NEW ENDOWED FUNDS
# OF NEW SCHOLARSHIPS
Learn how gifts to Campaign Clark are making a difference at clarku.edu/campaign.
to share this story’
Through her guided tours, Carolyn Michael-Banks ’79 has devoted her career to unveiling the untold histories of Black America
By Melissa Lynch ’95, MSPC ’15 PHOTO GRAPHY BY STEVE JONES
hen she was 14, Carolyn Michael-Banks W stood at the Door of No Return. Peering out at the Atlantic Ocean, she knew she was standing in the footsteps of thousands — perhaps millions — of West Africans who had passed through this infamous door at Elmina Castle, on the coast of Ghana, and onto slave ships, never to see their homeland again. It was a defining moment. I need to share this story, she thought. Back home, the Bronx native told her classmates about her summer vacation in Africa. “What were the jungles like?” they asked. She quickly realized that many of them thought “Africa” was one unruly, tribal, tropical place, not the world’s second-largest continent with more than 50 nations and a range of industries. “There was so much misinformation that I wanted to correct it,” she says. She’s been correcting it ever since. Michael-Banks’ company, A Tour of Possibilities (ATOP), offers sightseeing tours of Memphis, Tennessee, with a focus on the history of and contributions made by African Americans in the largest city on the Mississippi River — starting with how the city got its name. Memphis was once the capital of ancient Egypt, an important center of trade and commerce situated on the Nile from about 2925 B.C. to the mid-seventh century. “The founding fathers of our Memphis were aware of the greatness of Memphis in Africa, and anticipated the greatness to come in our city,” Michael-Banks says. “Add the fact that ancient Memphis sat on the Nile and ours sits here on the Mighty Mississippi.” Michael-Banks’ customers take her tour while sitting in a 10passenger van — at least, they did until COVID-19 forced her to rethink her model. In the pandemic, visitors follow the ATOP van in their own vehicles and tune into the tour via a Bluetooth link. Her visitors see Memphis’s famous sights, including the Pyramid, a former arena — built in 1991 in homage to the Great Pyramid of Giza — that now is home to restaurants, a hotel, stores, and more. But they also see sights and hear stories that are central to the African American experience. She highlights Auction Square, where enslaved people were bought and sold, and the Slave Haven Underground Railway Museum. Cossitt Library, where students from LeMoyne Owner College, Memphis’ only historically Black college, held sit-ins because they were not permitted to use the facility for their research. And Shelby County Jail, where Lee Walker was held in 1893 after being accused of assaulting two white women. A mob broke into the jail, dragged him out, and lynched him — burning and mutilating his body for souvenirs. Michael-Banks uses Walker’s story to note that the U.S. still does not have a federal anti-lynching law on the books. 38
“When you take my tour, it’s a roller coaster. One minute we’re laughing, talking about people who escaped from prison, and the next I’m talking about a lynching that took place next door. You don’t know what to expect — which is the way history is,” Michael-Banks says. And she doesn’t shy away from connecting the past to the present, especially if it offers a way to educate. One of the sights on the tour is Fourth Bluff Park, formerly called Confederate Park, which until 2017 had at its center a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Last year, when calls to remove monuments to Confederate generals escalated after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, some people on her tour insisted the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. “That’s what they were taught, so that’s what they know,” she says. “In their eyes, the protests didn’t make sense.” Michael-Banks seizes moments like this to correct the misinformation, as she did when she returned from Ghana as a teen. “That’s my mission now,” she continues. “I’m doing it at a very small level, which is fine — because small is where you’ve got to start.”
arolyn Michael-Banks ’79 did not come to Clark intending to forge a career in tourism. She was a psychology major with a sociology minor. She learned about the University from her brother, who was thinking of attending before he accepted a football scholarship to Columbia. One attraction was Clark’s small size. “I needed to go somewhere I wouldn’t be a number,” she says. “I wasn’t excited about how the winters would be, though.” One of those Clark winters included the Blizzard of ’78, when she was trapped in Hughes Hall for the duration. “That altered my life,” she laughs. Illness spread through the dorm, and one student even had to be airlifted out. A friend who lived off campus trudged through the snow and brought a hot plate and hot dogs. “We lived off those hot dogs for four days,” she recalls. “We sliced them thin and put some kind of seasoning on them. It was like filet mignon.” She resolved then that she would one day live in a warm climate. Michael-Banks, who grew up in a neighborhood that she describes as a “24/7 United Nations,” was in a small minority of Black students on campus, and usually the only Black person in her classes. This left her in the default position of explaining the African American experience to her classmates and professors. When the groundbreaking television miniseries “Roots” aired, a professor asked what students thought of its depiction of slavery. Michael-Banks recalls a white classmate raising her hand. “She said, ‘You know, I truly believe this
Carolyn Michael-Banks at the Memphis sculpture commemorating the 1968 strike of Black sanitation workers.
was made for TV. There’s absolutely no way that what I saw could have happened in any way, shape, or form.’ And then I felt the eyes.” Her classmates turned to Michael-Banks for a response. “I said that I could understand her feeling that way,” she says, “because she probably hadn’t ever seen it, heard it, smelled it, tasted it. The reality, probably, is that what we saw in ‘Roots’ hardly scratched the surface, and that there was still so much that we’ll never know.” Michael-Banks says she didn’t mind taking on the role of teacher— in fact, she welcomed it, as she always has when encountering insensitivity or ignorance. “I really wanted people to ask me what they wanted to know,” she says. “One of the reasons why we went away to college was to have certain experiences, and I had so many incredible experiences growing up that I was comfortable with you no matter who you were — but I knew that was not true for everyone.”
ichael-Banks worked as a social worker in Massachusetts after graduating from Clark. “At the time, I just knew that was my path — until I took the path,” she says. For two and a half years, she worked to protect abused children, hoping that her interventions would have a positive impact on their troubled lives. She saw her fellow social workers self-medicate and take out malpractice insurance to protect themselves from lawsuits filed by families who didn’t appreciate their efforts, and she had enough. “I realized that this was not why I was on the planet — but it
Her mission is to correct the misinformation of history. was hard, because I was going to save the world. That’s one thing about Clark. We all have this heart to help the world.” She left to live with her sister in Washington, D.C., and got a job as a tour guide with a company she had worked for during one of her summer vacations. But she balked at the lack of African American history being presented and began inserting little-known facts into the scripts. For instance, she told tourists about Benjamin Banneker, an African American mathematician and astronomer who was hired to survey the land staked out for the new U.S. capital city. When architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant failed to stay within his budget and design mandates and ultimately was let go, he took his plans with him. Banneker quickly stepped in to reproduce the design from memory. Michael-Banks’ script additions weren’t always welcome. Some customers complained that her storytelling made them uncomfortable. “Former First Lady Michelle Obama used to speak about how it felt for her to be First Lady in a house that was built by people who were enslaved. I was revealing that truth about the White House long before the Obamas moved in, and many customers just did not want to hear it,” she says. Spring 2021
Michael-Banks convinced the company’s CEO she could create and market a popular African American history tour of D.C. She did just that, but then had to take a medical leave. When she returned, all her posters and marketing materials had been removed. She was relocated to Savannah, Georgia, to open the company’s tour operation there. After researching and writing the tour script, which included African American history, she was moved again, to Philadelphia, where she did the same thing. That move changed her life, because she met her future husband, a Philadelphia native who lived in Memphis. Eventually, Michael-Banks was laid off from the tour company, so she headed south to the city where African American journalist Ida B. Wells refused to leave her first-class train carriage in 1884, the blues blossomed on Beale Street, and slavery had once been a thriving business. She saw an opportunity in Memphis to tell the stories behind the stories.
notably poignant part of A Tour of Possibilities in Memphis is the National Civil Rights Museum on the site of the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The museum’s creation was spearheaded by D’Army Bailey ’65, who was brought to campus in 1963 by Clark students after being expelled from Southern University for leading protests. Bailey went on to become a legendary Memphis judge and civil rights activist. Michael-Banks met Bailey just once, about a year before his death in 2015. She saw him at an event, marched up to him, and identified herself as a fellow Clarkie. Their connection was immediate. “We 40
“When you take my tour, you don’t know what to expect — which is the way history is.” were supposed to get together for a little Clark reunion,” she says, but they couldn’t make it happen. She has connected with D’Army’s son, Justin Bailey ’00, a Memphis native. “A lot of what compelled my dad to establish the museum was his desire to correct the record,” Bailey says. “Carolyn’s tour fills in a lot of the gaps.” He took the tour himself a few years ago, and was surprised by what he didn’t know about his own city. Michael-Banks pointed out Black-owned businesses along the way, Bailey says, a gesture he knows would have pleased his father. On her tours, Michael-Banks introduces herself as “Queen” — the conductor for the journey. “I do that intentionally,” she says. “Something shifts in me to connect me to the motherland.” When that shift takes place, Carolyn Michael-Banks asks her visitors to accompany her to where she thinks they need to be. To imagine a time when Memphis was not the Memphis of today; when the Door of No Return slammed shut on too many who endured under the cruelest circumstances; when new histories were being written by Black Americans across the nation. And then she begins to share their stories.
Clark establishes Becker School of Design & Technology A LONGTIME NEIGHBOR TO CLARK UNIVERSITY,
Becker College, made the painful decision in March to close its doors at the end of the spring semester after struggling with the financial challenges posed by the pandemic. With Becker’s blessing, Clark will soon be providing a path forward for students enrolled in some of the college’s leading-edge programs. Clark has established the Becker School of Design & Technology at Clark University to house Becker’s internationally ranked program in interactive media design (game design) and associated concentrations at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as esports management and integrated graphic design. Becker students in business, criminology, and
computer science also have pathways at Clark to complete their degrees. Princeton Review recently ranked Becker’s undergraduate game design program No. 2 in the world and their graduate MFA program No. 10. The publication also has listed Becker in the Top Schools for Video Game Design for 10 consecutive years. President David Fithian noted that Clark is excited about the opportunity to approach game design not as separate from the liberal arts, but meshed with it and enhanced by it. “We’re thrilled not only to continue these signature Becker programs, which are already among some of the best in the world, but to expand them and broaden
their scope,” he said. “By merging Becker’s strengths in these dynamic areas with the heft of a Clark liberal arts education and our research capabilities, we’re creating an amplified and energized academic experience that uniquely equips our students to confront challenges on a global scale and embrace emerging opportunities in the 21st-century economy. This is a perfect fit.” Students studying in the Becker School of Design & Technology at Clark will benefit from a combined curriculum that represents some of the best of both institutions. Clark’s fast-growing media, culture, and the arts major, its screen studies program, advanced degrees in areas like marketing analytics, data analytics, and project management, and new graduate credentials in computer science and biotechnology present exciting synergies with BSDT’s in-demand and market-aligned programs in areas like game development and esports management. Fithian added that the Becker School of Design & Technology at Clark is exploring expansion opportunities for research and teaching related to machine learning and artificial intelligence. Worcester civic leaders have come together to applaud the University for its leadership and commit to a partnership to embolden a long-term trajectory for the program, including an investment of $250,000 in seed funding. A number of Worcester-based foundations, including the Fuller Foundation, provided the funding. According to Fithian, it is a welcome shot in the arm and builds momentum for raising additional funds to create exceptional student experiences, recruit top faculty, and fuel interdisciplinary research across areas of strength at Clark University. Stanley Pierre-Louis ’93, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, advised Clark leaders about the significance of inspiring students to enter the burgeoning fields supported by game design. “Video games are transforming the way we work, play, and learn,” he said. “There are so many ways in which the industry can benefit from a pipeline of smart, talented, and inspired students pursuing careers in the video game arts and sciences.” Spring 2021
The Career ConneCTions CenTer works to benefit Clarkies
Alaina Tabani ’20 interned with a nutritionist at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The photo was taken pre-pandemic.
Through the CCC, alumni and families can help students launch successfully
• Become a mentor. Join ClarkConneCt and share your professional and educational journey with students as they develop their career interests and face new challenges.
the Career Connections Center offers a suite of resources that allows students to investigate new possibilities, gain experience, and prepare themselves to fulfill their post-graduation ambitions.
• Offer internship and entry-level jobs. Post opportunities for Clark students or champion the recruitment of Clark students to your colleagues.
with support from the Clark network, students connect their liberal arts education with career exploration through mentorship and experiential opportunities. Here’s how you can become involved:
• Support The Clark Fund. Designate a gift to give students internship and research opportunities. • Participate in the 2021 ClarkCONNECT Internship and Projects Challenge. Hire a student for an internship or provide mentorship through a guided project that helps students develop skills and brings value to your company. VISIT
alumni news INSIDE
Let’s keeping moving foward | A blooming success | Remembering our professors
Vote of confidence
Moving forward with determination and resilience As I write this on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I’m reminded of something Dr. King once said: “If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” The past year certainly has tested our ability to withstand and respond to myriad changes, from the mundane to the profound. But within that upheaval and adversity lie opportunities to move forward for the brave, for the intellectually curious, and for the resilient — qualities Clarkies have in abundance. Since June, the Alumni Council has had the privilege of hearing how students, faculty, and staff are experiencing and responding to the challenges of the pandemic and the fight for social justice in the community. We learned about the work of President David Fithian ’87, the administration, faculty, and staff to provide students with not just a safe environment in which to learn, but a rich, uniquely Clark education. And we experienced firsthand the ingenuity behind virtual programming that is reaching alumni like never before. Our own work, driven by an expanded base of committed alumni volunteers, continues. A new Diversity and Inclusion Committee is providing the administration with guidance and insight about how to act on areas of opportunity with marginalized groups of alumni. This committee will be an important liaison to new Black and LGBTQ+ alumni groups that are being developed and will kick off this year. Recognizing and celebrating the stories of our most committed alumni is also an area of focus. Historically, we’ve given Distinguished Alumni and Young Alumni awards at Reunion Weekend. In the past couple of years, we’ve added the new Service to Society Award. Our Awards Committee is reviewing candidates for these awards and thinking about new award categories for future years. Our Lifelong Learning Committee partnered with Clark’s Career Connections Center to offer a virtual alumni networking session as part of the Life After Clark conference in early February. This annual event provides juniors and seniors with skills, inspiration, and networking connections needed to be successful after graduation. The Nominating Committee recently presented a list of our recommendations for the open alumni-appointed seat to the Board of Trustees. This is among the most important annual tasks of the Alumni Council, and I am proud that, as in past years, we are not only presenting outstanding, qualified candidates, but also helping advance the diversity goals of this important governing body. In closing, I am immensely grateful for our volunteers who, despite their incredibly busy lives and the move to a completely virtual format, continue to surprise me with their resilience, diversity of thought, and strong ideals. We keep moving forward! MARY OWENS
President, Clark Alumni Council
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO?
Did you get a promotion? Get married? Write a book? Meet up with fellow Clarkies for a mini-reunion? We want to hear all about it, and your classmates do, too. Send your class note to: email@example.com Want to send a photo? Please be sure it’s as high resolution as possible (preferably 300 dpi) and send it as an attachment to your email. Or, if you prefer snail mail: Melissa Lynch, Associate Editor Clark University Marketing and Communications 950 Main St. Worcester, MA 01610 The first name of Brigid Palcic ‘11, M.A. ‘12, was incorrectly published in the Spring/Summer 2020. We apologize for the error.
LORETTA CHEKANI, who writes under the name Loretta Chase, has published her 23rd historical romance, “Ten Things I Hate About the Duke” (HarperCollins). In December 2020, the book was selected by library staff across the country for inclusion on the monthly LibraryReads list of the top ten books that month. “This is quite an honor, to be one of ten books chosen out of the hundreds published each month,” Loretta writes. Of her previous book, “A Duke in Shining Armor,” The New York Times Book Review wrote, “Chase’s consistent gift is to gently puncture all the genre’s conventions but one: the one that makes you care about her Regency hero and heroine and their happy ever after.” You can learn more about her various books and book series at lorettachase.com.
BERNARD SHAPIRO notes that he’s turning 85 in the spring, “with all my fond memories of Clark still intact.” Retired for many years, he has self-published or is working on eight books, including his autobiography, a couple of novels, and a pictorial retrospective of his professional life in the upscale fashion jewelry business. “To this very day, one of the most exciting days in my life was when I was notified that I had been elected to Gryphon, and then a few months later, the cherry on top of the cream: to Phi Beta Kappa,” he writes. “What Clark did for me was to make me think and question ‘why’ at almost every turn in my life, to think logically, be organized, and above all be punctual.”
DUNCAN CLARKE has published a novel, “A Little Rebellion is a Good Thing: Troubles at Traymore College” (Belle Isle Books). The book tells the story of a political science professor, David Pritchard, who works to bring down the autocratic president of Traymore College with help from sympathetic faculty and
students. Duncan is professor emeritus of international relations and former director of the United States Foreign Policy Field at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, D.C. He has served in the intelligence community and authored numerous articles and five books on U.S. defense and foreign policy. Duncan writes, “‘A Little Rebellion’ is fictional, of course, but grounded in the realities of the time. Indeed, there are close analogies between 1969–70 and today — repression by authorities, civil liberties violations, and social turmoil.”
HELEN SACHS CHASET is the executive producer of the documentary film “My Survivor,” which recounts the story of participants in the University of Miami Holocaust Survivors Student Internship Program, who learned about the Holocaust through firsthand accounts. Over several years of the class and program, some 500 students were paired with survivors for this landmark educational initiative. The film has been picked up by PBS and is being broadcast on public television stations around the country. “My Survivor” received three regional Emmy nominations.
MICHAEL CARTER recently retired from over 40 years with Hay Group (now Korn Ferry), a worldwide human resources consulting firm. As the partner in charge of U.S. health and welfare employee benefits consulting, he led teams and worked with international, U.S., state and local governments, and health care organizations. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and U.S. departments of Defense and Health and Human Services were among his clients. Michael led the team that consulted with the Congressional Research Service to provide Congress with nonpartisan, objective advice on national health care design and funding during the Clinton administration. He co-authored “Designing Employee Health Management Programs,” as well as chapters on employee benefits in four human resources management textbooks. Michael was a frequent speaker at national and regional HR conferences and has been quoted extensively in newspapers and business magazines. He has served as board chair for Therapeutic Spiral International and was a board member for UIH Family Partners.
TODD SOSTEK writes, “I just retired after 38 years as manager of environmental engineering with Southern California Gas Company, a large natural gas utility in Los Angeles. I also worked a few years at Sempra Energy in San Diego and the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. I was blessed with a great career protecting the environment right from the start of the environmental movement. I received my master’s and doctoral degrees from UCLA and credit Clark with giving me the diverse background needed to address our environment from a multidisciplinary point of view. I’ve been happily married for seven years to Li Wang Chang and we live in Glendale, California.”
KEN LEVINSKY recently won reelection to the Portland, Maine, Water District Board of Trustees, winning by a vote of 23,983 to 11,235. This is his fourth term; Ken has missed just one of more than 250 meetings in his 11 years on the board. Ken uses his involvement at PWD as a springboard to keep his Windham High School students involved with issues surrounding their town’s precious resource, Sebago Lake. Ken is a finance-free candidate trying to model for students that — at least at the local level — people do not need to raise or spend any money to run for office. Ken credits his knowledge base and zeal for protecting watersheds to his Clark geography professors Martyn Bowden and Doug Johnson.
class notes Books). The book describes how officers think, how they ought to think, how they can develop and improve their skills, and how everyday citizens can learn from the example of military officers and their program of education. Reed served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1979 to 1988 as an infantry officer, and his service included deployment for peacekeeping in Lebanon. During 20 years in the Marine Reserve, he served as field historian in Iraq, instructor, career planner, and company commander. Since then, he has taught at Franklin Pierce College, the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Norwich University, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (where he was director of ethics and character development), and John Jay College. He serves as a senior fellow for the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. His previous book is “Soldiers and Civilization: How the Profession of Arms Thought and Fought the Modern World into Existence” (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2017). He lives in Larchmont, New York.
’83 ROBERT MURA has received the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Silver Hammer Award for his restoration of 70 James Street, Worcester, a 210,000 square-foot, mixed-used former mill. The award ”acknowledges construction or rehabilitation projects that have an extraordinary visual and aesthetic impact on the city or region, while bringing new life to historic properties.” Mura owns both 65 and 70 James Street, which together he calls James Street Place. “It’s home to a vibrant, eclectic mix of over 100 tenants in the James Street Corridor — a gateway into the City of Worcester — with over 17,000 cars passing by daily,” Bob writes. He is the president of R.W. Mura and Company, a real estate development firm.
JOAN MARCUS is a proud volunteer for Promises2Kids, a San Diego, California, nonprofit that responds to the needs of foster children and provides support to children removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. Joan was named the organization’s Mentor of the Year in 2019.
SEAN MCDONALD, an avid collector of books about Native Americans, is writing his own book called “The Armchair Indian.”
MICHELLE BURAK LANGMEAD recently was promoted to lead teacher/principal at B’nai Tikvah school
in Canton, Massachusetts. Michelle has been an award-winning educator in the Boston area for more than 30 years and was honored by her synagogue with the Kallah Beresheet award this year for the innovative and creative ways she has brought the congregation and religious school together during the pandemic. She has been teaching both children and adult cooking classes, arranging online service projects, and promoting outdoor socially distant programs for the community. Michelle lives in Stoughton, Massachusetts, with her husband, Andrew, and has two grown daughters, Samantha, a graduate student at NYU Steinhardt, and Abbie, an undergrad at Emerson College.
REED BONADONNA, M.A. ’89, has published “How to Think Like an Officer: Lessons in Learning and Leadership for Soldiers and Citizens” (Stackpole
RICHARD ECKRICH worked for move than six years in Nigeria with the Soverign Wealth Fund, and has now moved to Dakar, Senegal, to be the Africa/Middle East lead for InfraVentures, part of the International Finance Corporation/World Bank. “I wish all my classmates and their families good health during this difficult period,” he writes. PORTIA M. YORK recently earned a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is an educator and artist with research and practice in culturally responsive pedagogy, arts integration, and STEAM, with a special focus on equity and achievement of underrepresented students.
ROGER ZIEGLER has published “Hannah Grace and The Dragon Codex Book 2: The Peril of Squirrels,” the second book in his Hannah Grace children’s adventure series. In the novel, 12-year-old Hannah and her friends Gemma and Matthew follow clues laid down by none other than Mark Twain to reunite the missing pieces of “The Dragon Codex,” the most powerful book in the world, and save the universe. To do it, they battle killer clowns, killer crystals, and ride a Velveeta tsunami. In addition to the Hannah Grace novels, Roger wrote the bestselling self-help book, “Pee on It and Walk Away.” JONATHAN SCHOFIELD recently retired after a 25-year career with the federal government, first as a special agent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in New York, and later as a special agent and special-agent-in-charge with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Inspector General (USAID OIG). In the latter role, he traveled across the globe to investigate fraud and
DIMITRY ANSELME was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the Brookline (Massachusetts) School Committee, by a unanimous vote of the School Committee and Select Board. Dimitry is executive program director for professional learning and support at Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit that uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. Previously, Dimitry taught in Brookline and was the principal of the Academy of the Pacific Rim, a charter high school in Hyde Park. After graduating from Clark with a bachelor’s in history and international development, he earned a master’s in education with a focus on administration and social policy planning from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
corruption in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and the United States. He helped uncover medicine and equipment theft and fraud in the President’s Malaria Initiative in Africa, worked fraud cases in Iran and Pakistan, and survived both a rocket attack in Afghanistan and an attempted mugging in Ecuador. At Clark, professors Mark Miller and Douglas Little helped inspire his interest in government. “Government sometimes gets a bad rap, but that was not my experience,” he says. “I worked with incredibly passionate, talented, energetic professionals who really cared and made tremendous impacts.”
SCOTT BENTLEY has released “Waterwands,” an album of 14 original songs that is available to stream at bentley.hearnow.com. While music is a passion of his, he also is a criminal defense attorney in Ventura, California. Born in Los Angeles, Scott lived with his family in Cairo, Egypt, from age four through high school. He took a year off between high school and college, spending a semester with the National
Outdoor Leadership School in the Rocky Mountains and a semester studying Spanish in Salamanca, Spain. After graduating magna cum laude from Clark, Scott taught junior high and high school before attending Pepperdine School of Law in Malibu, California. His firm is online at bentleylaw.com.
DEIDRE HILL-BUTLER, PH.D. ’02, has been named academic chief diversity officer and director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Union College in Schenectady, New York, and is responsible for leading efforts in academic affairs to promote greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. An associate professor of sociology, her research areas encompass Black women’s resilience. She recently served as the Feminist Mothering Caucus chair for the National Women’s Studies Association, and was recognized as a Woman of Achievement by the YWCA of Northeastern New York. Deidre is a life member of the Association of Black Women Historians.
JASON SOHIGIAN has been named executive director of the the Armenian Museum of America, a repository for all forms of material culture that illustrate the creative endeavors of the Armenian people over the centuries. Previously, Jason served as editor of Armenian Weekly and as deputy director of the Armenia Tree Project, where he focused on development, marketing, and environmental stability. In 2015, Jason co-founded the Armenian Numismatic and Antiquities Society, which has held several “Antiques Roadshow”-type events and developed a website and social media presence for collectors, historians, and enthusiasts. Jason earned a master’s in sustainability and environmental management from the Harvard Extension School, has appeared on numerous panels, and was featured as a speaker at a prestigious TEDx event in Yerevan, Armenia.
THOMAS MACMILLAN is working toward a doctorate in North American working class history. He is in the second year of his studies at Concordia University in Montreal.
TAYLOR BENNETT ’15, MBA ’16, has been named CEO of Solar Wolf Energy Inc. of Auburn, Massachusetts. She joined Solar Wolf in 2016 as a project manager, and was promoted to vice president in 2019. At Clark, Taylor majored in sociology with a minor in management. She earned an MBA through the Accelerated B.A./Master’s Program and specialized in marketing.
MIKE GEHERAN, PH.D. ’16, has published “Comrades Betrayed: Jewish World War I Veterans Under Hitler” (Cornell University Press). The book is the first to Spring 2021
class notes examine the lives of German Jewish veterans of World War I during the Nazi years. In tracing their paths from the trenches of the First World War to the death camps of the Third Reich, Mike uncovers how the Jewish former soldiers responded to the rise of Hitler, how they coped under Nazi persecution, and why many believed that Germany would never betray them, even as the Holocaust unfolded around them. “Addressing many of today’s contentious debates about minorities, military service, and citizenship, I hope that this book will contribute to Holocaust studies, the history of masculinities, and European history,” Mike says.
JACK LEVINE is co-founder and CEO of Town to Table, a Massachusetts-based startup that works to develop interactive campus farm and gardening programs for schools and nonprofits — including engaging lesson plans, field trips, and job training programs. Town to Table also provides fresh local greens year-round to markets in the Boston area by using a Freight Farm, a hydroponic vertical container farm from Freight Farms (a Boston company co-founded by Brad McNamara, MBA/ES&P ’13). “All of the food is grown in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner,” Jack said in an interview with FuturePATH. “We are able to produce an acre of food (about 1,000 heads of lettuce per week) using just five gallons of water each day and without the use of pesticides or GMOs.”
AVI STEINHARDT is a psychotherapist in Brooklyn, New York. At the start of the pandemic, when New York City was in lockdown, he began filming videos in his apartment with “Louie,” a furry, blue monster puppet, and shared them on his “Monster Insight” YouTube and Instagram pages. In May, the videos were featured on Spectrum News NY1’s “Acts of Kindness” segment. “We put the first one out there totally spontaneously and the response was really tender right away,” Avi told the ClarkNow news hub. “People were like, ‘Thank you, I needed that, please keep doing this.’ That was very touching, so then it immediately felt like a service I could offer.” The video themes are sometimes based on issues that emerge during therapy sessions with his clients, or could include him and Louie reciting a meaningful poem or singing a song. During the summer, Avi used his platform to speak out about racism, systemic oppression, and police brutality. Avi earned his master’s degree in social work at NYU. He received further training as a Gestalt therapist at the Gestalt Institute of New England and now runs his own practice in Brooklyn.
CHERYL HAMILTON writes that the past year (plus) has been significant for her. She married Chris Shirazi on Nov. 2, 2019, at the Boston Public Market (where they had their first date), and also co-founded Tell&Act, which works with clients to transform their businesses, communities, and personal lives through the power of storytelling. “We are best known for curating and coaching talent for the national program, ‘Stories From the Stage,’ featured on the World Channel and PBS,” Cheryl says. You can learn about the company at tellandact.com.
JANETTE EKANEM ’09, MPA ’10, has been named president of the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys, a professional bar association committed to the advancement of justice and equality for people of color with a particular emphasis on Black women and/or women of African descent. Janette is an associate at the law firm Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP, where she represents businesses, nonprofits, human service providers, colleges, universities, and other entities in a variety of employment matters. Her practice involves providing comprehensive counsel on hiring, personnel policies, discrimination, retaliation, investigations, pay equity, and wage and hour compliance. Previously, Janette worked in the Employment Law Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services. She is a member of the Clark President’s Leadership Council and served as president of the University’s Alumni Council.
PHOTO B O OK IS A BL O OMING SUC CE S S
AMANDALEE APONTE ’11, MPA ’12, married Jonathan Stroh on Nov. 8, 2019, in Hartford, Connecticut. Clarkies in attendance included Meg O’Rourke ’11, Liz Couture ’08, and Awilda Aponte ’83, AmandaLee’s aunt.
’13 COURTNEY LITTLE and Emmanuel Vozos were married on Oct. 10, 2020, at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey.
NITA WINTER ’76 and husband Rob Badger had never witnessed anything like it. As far as the eye could see, fields of brilliant orange wildflowers blanketed California’s Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, rippling like waves as the wind swept across the ground on a spring day in 1992. The incredible “superbloom” was the first of its kind in nearly a decade. The couple made the seven-hour drive from their home in San Francisco and spent the next several days creating breathtaking images in the poppy reserve. The trip sparked a passion for conservation photography, and compelled Winter and Badger to spend the next 27 years photographing wildflowers on public land across the western United States. Their goal was not only to capture beautiful images, but to advocate for land conservation and action against climate change and species extinction. The couple was recently honored with the Sierra Club’s 2020 Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography for their illustrated coffee table book and accompanying traveling educational exhibit, “Beauty and the Beast: California Wildflowers and Climate Change.” “Climate change was being talked about, but not very much,” Winter says. “We were learning about how it was going to affect the wildflowers and their natural communities, and we realized we had an opportunity to approach this topic in a unique and subtle, but powerful, way.” Winter grew up on Long Island and studied biology at Clark University. She worked for the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management before moving to San Francisco, where she began volunteering for the Women’s Building of the Bay Area — a women-led, nonprofit community space that was the first of its kind in the country. The position exposed her to new people and places, and she decided to turn her photography hobby into a full-time venture, beginning a project called “Children of the Tenderloin” that documented life in San Francisco’s toughest neighborhood. “That launched my career as a people photographer and I ended up having my work reproduced in The Village Voice,” she says. “I started working with the Children’s Defense Fund, so for the next 25 years I focused on creating healthy communities and celebrating diversity.” The nonprofit organization Exhibit Envoy began hosting Winter and Badger’s traveling “Beauty and the Beast” exhibit in 2018. The show has been seen by more than 45,000 people to date, and the San Diego Natural History Museum created a largeprint version of the exhibit, currently on display. “This has always been about the power of art and storytelling — about educating and motivating people,” Winter says. “It’s exciting to see how it’s grown.”
Wesley Fuller When he composed, Professor Wesley Fuller gave voice to the improvisatory whims of nature that moved and haunted him: the chaotic path of a bird in flight, the scudding of a cloud across a darkening sky, the spray of sea against a cliff — all would have found their way into his music. “He was fascinated by the unpredictable patterns of both the natural world and the emotional world, and he mapped them, in a sense, into his utterly unique universe of sound,” his daughter, Cathy Fuller, recalls. “And it was important to him that his students should appreciate the beauty of complexity.” Wesley Fuller, a professor of music at Clark for 26 years, died Sept. 24, 2020, at his home in Waltham, Massachusetts. He was 89. A native of Worcester, he did his undergraduate work at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and graduate work at Boston University, then taught at Wheaton College before joining the Clark faculty. He served as the chair of the Music Division, founded the Clark Computer Music Studios, and co-founded the Tri-College Group for Electronic Music and Related Research. Ben Korstvedt ’87, professor of music at Clark, recalls that during his student days at Clark, Fuller offered instruction that fused rigor with insight in a way that had an enduring influence. “Wesley Fuller was a teacher who made an impact,” Korstvedt says. “He was a brilliant musician, and could inspire you as well as push you pretty hard. There are numerous compositions that I studied in his courses than I never hear — or teach — without reflecting on what I learned from him.” Cathy Fuller says her father was always keen to cross disciplines, engaging with faculty in film, theater, and languages to collaborate on new ways to create and teach. He launched The Celebrity Series, attracting musicians of renown to perform at Clark, and he even had a celebrity pal of his own. Wes befriended Judy Garland when she came to Boston to perform, and the two developed “a deep and wonderful relationship,” Cathy remembers. “He became her artistic adviser, and Judy adored him.” Clark honored Wesley with the title of George N. and Selma U. Jeppson Professor of Music (Emeritus). He took an early retirement to compose in his private studio in Florida. Teaching music at Clark was a Fuller family endeavor. Cathy and her mother, Evelyn Fuller, both taught piano at the University, as did Wes’ husband and partner of 54 years, Jacques Linder.
Wesley Fuller’s music has been heard and performed internationally. His latest recording of music for computer-generated sound and instruments was released posthumously. His projects had been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and many more. The months he spent in the south of France as resident composer at the Camargo Foundation were a highlight of his personal and professional life. “Wes’ compositions express his amazing capacity to bring together both intense intellect and intense human emotion — beautifully crafted and rewarding to hear and to contemplate,” says Linda Dusman, a former music colleague at Clark. “He was always ready to appreciate both the mundane and the spectacular with an artist’s response. His absence in this world is a great loss, and I am sure his forward-looking contributions to the cultural life of Clark live on.”
Irma Stevens ’47
Susan Foster, longtime professor of biology, passed away on Jan. 17, 2021, surrounded by her family — including her husband, John Baker, associate research professor of biology at Clark. Over the course of her 26-year career at Clark, 25 students completed dissertations under Foster’s guidance, with countless master’s and undergraduate students also benefiting from her mentorship. A number of her former students shared memories online. Hannah Reich ’15, M.S. ’16, who went on to earn her Ph.D. in biology at Penn State University, wrote, “Susan’s advice for success in biology was ‘It’s not about what you know, it’s about what you don’t know.’ … I’m extremely grateful to have had Susan as a professor, for our interactions in the Foster-Baker lab, and that she instilled a drive to study the unknown that I still carry with me.” Baxter Worthing ’16, M.S. ’17, who is now pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Vermont, wrote, “I took three of Susan’s classes as an undergrad. I will forever remember her as the first scientist to treat me like a fellow scientist. She took my ideas seriously, and helped me pursue opportunities to explore them further. That meant the world to me.” Foster chaired the Biology Department for 10 years, overseeing the expansion of biology and biology-related majors as well as the department’s move to the Lasry Center for Bioscience. She also chaired the Environmental Science Program for more than a decade, and was instrumental in establishing its interdisciplinary and accelerated degree programs. She was awarded the Warren Litsky Endowed Chair from 2008 to 2011 and the Jan and Landry University Professorship from 2017 to 2020. In collaboration with Baker, Foster led an internationally renowned research laboratory, and maintained a productive and impressive research program that received consistent grant support. Foster’s research played a role in integrating ideas of behavioral evolution with physiology and ecological factors on fish populations. In 2015, she co-led a study funded by a grant from the prestigious Templeton Foundation to develop a new evolutionary synthesis; the study focused on the role of plasticity in the evolutionary radiation of the threespine stickleback fish. Foster served on the editorial boards of numerous high-profile journals in her field and was elected president of the Animal Behavior Society from 2008 to 2012.
Irma Frey Stevens, one of the first woman to enroll at Clark University as an undergraduate, died on July 12, 2020, in Auburn, Massachusetts. In 2017, the University held a celebration to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Clark admitting its first women undergraduates. Stevens was a featured speaker, reading her original poem, “The Fundamental Thing as Time Goes By,” and telling stories that recalled the “superior education” she received at Clark from legendary professors like Rudolph Nunnemacher in biology and Loring Holmes Dodd in English. She was coxswain on the women’s rowing ream, studied Spanish, French, and German, and rode in rumble seats on jaunts through Worcester. Her daily commute from Clinton, Massachusetts, included a walk from the Worcester City Hall bus stop to campus, and back to City Hall for the trip home. The day Franklin Delano Roosevelt died, the buildings along Main Street were draped in black, and the street was eerily silent, she remembered. Hazel Hughes, the benevolent yet rules-conscious dean of women, once called the young Irma into her office. “She let me know that she’d observed me chewing gum in the gym,” Stevens said, drawing laughs from the anniversary audience. “I would tell the coeds of today, if you’re ever called into the dean’s office, you can say, ‘Well, at least I never chewed gum in the gym.’ ” Stevens returned to the classroom in her 60s and earned a master’s in theology from Assumption College. She also returned to the Clark campus, this time as a volunteer instructor with the American Language and Culture Institute, teaching English language and writing skills to international students; she had been a grade-school teacher after graduating from Clark and marrying Allison P. Stevens. She taught for nearly 30 years, finally retiring at 92 — Clark’s oldest active instructor. Stevens published several volumes of her poems and frequently participated in poetry readings in the Worcester area. She was also active in study groups on Jungian psychology and the writings of C. S. Lewis. A music lover, Irma played the xylophone and marimba, and performed for churches and civic groups into her 90s.
James D. Laird
James D. Laird, professor emeritus of psychology, died on Dec. 26, 2020, at the home of his daughter in Lincoln, Vermont. He was surrounded by his family. Laird joined the faculty of the Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology after earning his doctorate from the University of Rochester, and stayed at Clark for his entire career. He served in many university posts, including chair of the Psychology Department. In his research, Laird explored feelings: how they arise, affect behavior, and may be controlled and organized. Perhaps his most significant contribution to psychology was in what is referred to as “self-perception theory,” which contends that feelings are the consequence, not the cause, of behavior. This theory has been cited in many media outlets through the years as a way for people to improve their mood — we can make ourselves happier just by smiling. Laird’s dozens of publications include the influential papers “Self-Attribution of Emotion: The Effects of Expressive Behavior on the Quality of Emotional Experience” (1974) and “Emotion-Specific Effects of Facial Expressions and Postures on Emotional Experience” (1989). His 2007 book, “Feelings: The Perception of Self,” presents a summary of his decades of self-perception research.
Roger Bibace, Ph.D.’56 Roger Bibace, longtime professor of psychology at Clark University, died on July 19, 2020, at his home in Worcester. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Bibace earned a doctorate at Clark in 1956, a dissertation that was named outstanding by the department and submitted to the American Psychological Association’s Division of Clinical Psychology. He subsequently served as the first national chairman of an APA committee comprising graduates from APA-accredited programs. He joined the Clark faculty in 1957, and was named a full professor in 1970. He directed the Psychology Department’s Psychological Services Center from 1965 to 1971 and its Clinical Training Program from 1973 to 1977. Bibace joined the UMass Department of Family Practice in 1976 as its part-time director for behavioral science. He observed doctor-patient interactions at the department’s Family Health Centers to ensure that a focus on the doctor-patient relationship remained front and center for the developing specialty. He also served in several clinical and administrative capacities at Worcester State Hospital. In addition, he was a consulting psychologist with the Worcester Public Schools, Worcester Police Department, the Judge Baker Guidance Clinic in Boston, the Boston VA Hospital in Jamaica Plain, and Montreal Children’s Hospital. He was active on a variety of committees and workgroups for the American Psychological Association, including as part of site evaluation teams for doctoral programs in clinical psychology.
Gary E. Overvold Gary E. Overvold, professor emeritus of philosophy, died on Dec. 5, 2020. Overvold joined the Clark faculty in 1969 and retired as professor emeritus in 2014. His research and teaching focused on the cultural and intellectual history of modernism, and during his tenure, he was affiliated with the management, education, comparative literature, and women’s studies departments. He also taught courses in the professional communication and public administration master’s degree programs. During his career, Overvold spent time as a visiting or research professor at schools around the world, and received fellowships and grants from the Ford Foundation, the Belgian American Education Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. He edited the Philosophy Documentation Center’s Idealistic Studies journal from 2002 to 2018.
Lydia Pastuszek ’75
Wen-Yang Wen, professor emeritus of chemistry, passed away on Jan. 13, 2021. He was a member of the Clark faculty for 48 years. Born in Taiwan during the Japanese occupation, he was educated at the selective Taipei Middle School and the National Taiwan University. He was one of two students not affiliated with the government to be awarded a scholarship for advanced study in the United States, earning a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. He taught at DePaul University before joining the Gustaf H. Carlson School of Chemistry at Clark in 1962. Upon his retirement from Clark, his family and friends established the Wen-Yang Wen Endowed Prize for Excellence in Chemistry, which is awarded annually to an outstanding upperclass student in chemistry or biochemistry.
Lydia Pastuszek ’75, who served as senior adviser for marketing and corporate affairs at Clark from 2006 to 2008, died on Nov. 6, 2020. She graduated from Clark in just threeand-a-half years, earning a bachelor’s in government. The recession of the late 1970s led to an interest in energy planning, and she went on to earn a master’s in city and regional planning from Harvard University. She subsequently worked for several public agencies, amassing data to understand how energy was being used by families and businesses. At New England Electric System (now National Grid), Pastuszek spearheaded energy conservation measures that are now standard in electric utilities. As senior adviser at Clark, she counseled then-President John Bassett on marketing, developed branding and consistency throughout the campus, prepared an interim marketing plan, worked on business community outreach, and coordinated the selection of honorary degree recipients and President’s Lecture series speakers. Pastuszek was a community affordable housing advocate, having watched her parents advocate and support their tenants in the family real estate business. She was elected a housing commissioner in Sudbury, Massachusetts, in 2005, serving until 2018.
Leonard E. Cirillo, Ph.D. ‘65 Leonard E. Cirillo, Ph.D. ’65, professor emeritus of psychology at Clark, died on Dec. 20, 2020, at his home. Cirillo taught at the University of Denver for two years before he earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from Clark. He taught at Yeshiva University for three years before returning to join the Clark psychology faculty. During his tenure, he served several terms as chair of the Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology, retiring in 2002 after 33 years on the Clark faculty. He wrote numerous academic articles and edited books in his field, including “Emotions in Ideal Human Development” and “Value Presuppositions in Theories of Human Development.” In addition to teaching, Cirillo had a clinical psychology practice in Worcester for many years. He was a member of the American Psychological Association.
David Pels ’71 David Pels ’71 of Newington, Connecticut, died on July 5, 2020. In his 47-year career as a legal services attorney for Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Pels was a pioneer of landlord-tenant law, litigating individual and class-action cases that strengthened tenants’ rights in many areas, including requiring landlords to purchase smoke detectors and strengthening protections against retaliatory evictions. To honor his work, his colleagues created The David A. Pels Homelessness Prevention Fund to benefit low-income tenants facing the threat of homelessness in Connecticut.
Christopher Collier ’51, L.H.D. ’08 Christopher “Kit” Collier ’51, L.H.D. ’08, passed away on March 6, 2020, at his home in Branford, Connecticut. A historian and author, he earned a doctorate from Columbia University in 1964 and taught at the University of Connecticut from 1984 to 1999, specializing in early American history, Connecticut history, and Connecticut constitutional history. A founding member of the Connecticut Supreme Court Historical Society, Collier was the official Connecticut State Historian from 1948 to 2004. He published several books about the American constitutional government and Connecticut’s role in its creation. In 1971, Collier published “Roger Sherman’s Connecticut: Yankee Politics and the American Revolution,” for which he received a Pulitzer Prize nomination. With his brother, James, Collier authored eight historical novels for young adults, including “My Brother Sam Is Dead,” which was awarded the American Library Association’s prestigious Newbery Medal in 1974.
PAS SING S
SUSANNA B. (COLTON) ARNOLD ‘42 Gwynedd, Penn., 12/12/20
ENID (SIMMONS) BELLOWS ’56 Wilmington, N.C., 8/29/2020
GLORIA L. (ROLLINSON) KENNEDY ’65 Westborough, Mass., 5/1/2020
ROBERT W. HALLOCK ’76 Shrewsbury, Mass., 9/12/2020
THELMA S. (BRODSKY) LOCKWOOD ’45 Worcester, Mass., 9/10/2020
GARY MACCONNELL ’56 Holden, Mass., 11/11/20
GORDON G. WEBSTER ’65 Framingham, Mass., 5/11/2020
MICHAEL D. WARSHAW ’76 Worcester, Mass., 6/12/2020
HEIDI H. (BURACK) LEWITT ’46 Lewitt, Mass., 7/23/2020
FREDRICK L. RHODES ’56 Worcester, Mass., 4/25/2020
HAROLD M. LANE, M.A.ED. ’66 Holden, Mass., 8/22/2020
MONICA M. PRZELOMSKI-PACIFICO ’77 Auburn, Mass., 3/27/2020
FRANK H. HEALEY ’47, PH.D. ’49 Ridgewood, N.J., 3/24/2020
RONALD F. SNYDER ’56 Fairmont, N.Y., 5/22/2020
JOEL A. REMMER ’66 Boston, Mass., 7/1/2020
HAROLD S. DOANE ’80 West Brookfield, Mass., 3/14/2020
IRMA G. (FREY) STEVENS ’47 Auburn, Mass., 7/12/2020
ROGER BIBACE, PH.D. ’57, P ’96 Worcester, Mass., 7/19/2020
DAVID C. TUCKER ’66 S. Yarmouth, Mass., 7/1/2020
DEBRA A. DRESNER ’80 West Hartford, Conn., 7/13/2020
JACK L. WOLFSON ’48 Worcester, Mass., 6/20/2020
DONALD L. MORRISON ’57, M.A.ED. ’62 West Windsor, Vt., 3/28/2020
FRANCIS L. FRYER ’68 Medfield, Mass., 6/1/2020
EDNA P. SPENCER ’80, M.A. ’85 Worcester, Mass., 7/7/2020
MICHAEL G. MENSOIAN ’49 Newton Centre, Mass., 7/7/2020
LLOYD B. STEINBERG ’57 Ocala, Fla., 5/25/2020
THOMAS B. KINRAIDE, M.A. ’68 Easton, Mass., 7/12/2020
LISA C. ALEXIS ’81 Washington, D.C., 6/13/2020
CLEMENTINE P. (RAZZO) SWEENEY, M.A. ’49 Flushing, N.Y., 4/24/2020
RICHARD M. LAMAR, M.A.ED. ’58 Osterville, Mass., 4/3/2020
W. MICHAEL GASEK, MBA ’69 Northborough, Mass., 8/16/2020
EUGENIA TSANTINIS ’81 Worcester, Mass., 6/3/2020
IDRIAN N. RESNICK ’58 Branford, Conn., 4/3/2020
ARNOLD J. SIMPSON ’69 Southbridge, Mass., 8/8/2020
EUGENE H. BEDARD ’84 Fitchburg, Mass., 8/15/2020
MARILYN (MARCUS) SHER ’58 Miami, Fla., 6/3/2020
CAROLE A. BYRNES ’70 Worcester, Mass., 4/7/2020
PAUL R. BOTTIS ’84 Leicester, Mass., 7/3/2020
RALPH W. ANDERSON ’59 Worcester, Mass., 5/31/2020
PAUL E. GHIZE ’71 Worcester, Mass., 9/19/2020
COLETTE N. (FRANK) BERNARDI ’85 Minneapolis, Minn., 8/18/2020
LAWRENCE B. MULLANEY, M.A.ED. ’59 Worcester, Mass., 5/12/2020
BARRETT MORGAN, M.A. ’71 Worcester, Mass., 4/17/2020
ERIC (BOEHME) ALEXANDER ’89 Oakland, Calif., 7/7/2020
ANNE J. (SIMES) D’ARCY ’60 Chico, Calif., 6/28/2020
DAVID A. PELS ’71 Newington, Conn., 7/5/2020
HELEN T. CRAIG ’91 Worcester, Mass., 6/4/2020
DOUGLAS B. SHAW ’61 Terra Ceia, Fla., 3/14/2020
BARTEV D. BAGDASARIAN ’72, P ’91 Holden, Mass., 8/2/2020
JENNIFER M. (SWEENEY) REID ’92 Richmond, Calif., 6/26/2020
ROBERT C. GEORGE, M.A. ’62 Worcester, Mass., 7/12/2020
JOSEPH L. CZERWINSKI ’72 Exeter, R.I., 5/10/2020
JAMES F. CORRIGAN ’93 Worcester, Mass., 9/23/2020
JOHN A. JANELL ’62 Bristol, Maine, 4/2/2020
JOHN B. CHESTER, M.A. ’73 Williamston, Vt., 4/22/2020
JOHN F. MCAULIFFE, MPA ’98 Somerset, Mass., 8/12/2020
SHEILA A. (MCNICHOLAS) MCMAHON ’63 Winthrop, Mass., 9/2/2020
SHIRLEY E. DEARBORN ’73 Oklahoma City, Okla., 5/4/2020
KRISTEN F. (EATON) BOOSAHDA, MBA ’99 Shrewsbury, Mass., 4/3/2020
LUCINDA R. (WAITE) STOCKWELL ’63 Rochester, N.Y., 7/29/2020
FRANCIS J. HUTCH ’73 Marlboro, Mass., 5/17/2020
FRANCIS P. BUGBEE ’64 West Brookfield, Mass., 8/25/2020
PHILIP ANZALONE ’76 Leominster, Mass., 7/31/2020
JOAN FERGUSON ’64 Worcester, Mass., 3/16/2020
REBECCA S. (BRAGDON) EKSTROM ’76 Spencer, Mass., 6/14/2020
EDWARD P. WALSH ’64 Fitchburg, Mass., 8/10/2020
BARBARA H. GAUDETTE ’76 Northbridge, Mass., 5/24/2020
JANET P. (PORTER) TAYLOR ’49 Pittsfield, Mass., 4/29/2020 L. LOUISE (GENDRON) COOK ’50 Lake of the Woods, Va., 4/5/2020 HAROLD E. VICKERS ’50 Albuquerque, N.M., 7/20/2020 AUDREY B. (BRUDNO) HALPERIN ’51 Wayland, Mass., 6/22/2020 IRVING HURWITZ ’48, PH.D. ’54 Jamaica Plain, Mass., 4/17/2020 GERALD J. VIENNEAU ’50 Worcester, Mass., 3/18/2020 FREDERICK SHEPPARD ’51 West Dennis, Mass., 6/12/2020 PAUL PALTRINERI ’52 Stratford, Conn., 8/15/2020 CHARLES E. WEBSTER ’53 Bedford, Mass., 4/23/2020 JOAN GREENBAUM WEBSTER ’54 Worcester, Mass., 6/19/2020 MELVIN H. GERROL ’55 West Hartford, Conn., 5/15/2020 JOHN TATEOSIAN ’55 Worcester, Mass., 9/7/2020 ARNOLD C. WELLER ’55 Brewster, Mass., 4/10/2020
BRUCE D. DRUCKER ’65 Wellfleet, Mass., 4/7/2020
AMANDA R. NASHAWATY ’99 Westbrook, Maine, 4/15/2020 SUSAN M. (O’CONNOR) ERICKSON, MBA ’00 Auburn, Mass., 4/10/2020 SARP MERTDOĞAN ‘19 Baton Rouge, La., 2/9/2021
In any country, he’s a Clarkie Jason Berry with sons Patrick and Maximus, and local teens Ante and Tomislav.
When he was a senior in high school, Jason Berry ’97, MBa ’98, knew he didn’t have the academic qualifications to become a Clark University student. But a Clark admissions counselor saw him differently. she saw a Clarkie. once on campus, Jason took full advantage of all that the University had to offer. He self-designed his major in russian studies and government and earned his MBa in the fifthyear program, connecting with key professors along the way. He learned about organizational behavior from Priscilla elsass (his favorite class), and Cynthia enloe taught him to approach information sources with informed skepticism. Jason accompanied the late Paul ropp to a conference in Moscow to be his translator and travelled to Quebec to act as Professor Mark Miller’s interpretor for a research project. He built enduring friendships, particularly with his MBa classmates who reunite every two years at various locations around the world. Germany, Turkey, Croatia, Portugal, and Brazil have all been destinations. Professor Maurry Tamarkin and his wife, Julie, do the hosting when his former students are in Worcester.
Jason’s career has been equally international. He worked in finance in London, and in futures trading on the floor of the London International Financial Futures and options exchange and in Ireland before starting his own firm, Positive equity, in 2008. The company is based in Ireland, with small offices and outposts in spain and Croatia. He largely works from Zagreb, Croatia, where he lives with his wife, Maki, and sons Patrick and Maximus. He also spends time with two teenagers from a local children’s home. Jason has included a gift to Clark in his estate plan and he also gives annually, a testament of his commitment to the University. “I had an experience I couldn’t have gotten if Clark hadn’t given me a shot,” he says. “you can only understand how special a place this is by going here.” spoken like a true Clarkie. To learn about ways you can leave a legacy for Clark with a gift during your lifetime or from your estate, contact Mary Richardson, director of planned giving, at 508-793-7593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
clarku.edu/planned-giving Spring 2021
Thomas Hicks ’93 says elections are a matter of trust
T By Jim Keogh
HOMAS HICKS ’93 shared with millions of Americans the shock and revulsion of watching the January 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol Building by protestors claiming the presidential election had been stolen. Of all the disturbing images that emerged from the attack, one in particular shook him: the sight of the Confederate flag being paraded through the historic halls. “It’s something I never could have imagined I would see,” he says. “Honestly, I don’t know how we heal.” The events of January 6 were especially galling to Hicks because he knew firsthand the painstaking efforts by everyday people across the country, both Democrats and Republicans, to ensure that the election was secure, fair, and accurate. For the past six years, Hicks has served with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), a bipartisan agency that works closely with the states to develop and share best practices to efficiently administer elections and safeguard their integrity. “The people running the elections are not bureaucrats in Washington or some nefarious individuals operating from behind a curtain. They’re your next-door neighbors — teachers, parents, retirees — serving as poll workers and doing the important things to inspire confidence in our election process.” Hicks, who was nominated to the commission by President Barack Obama and confirmed by unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate in 2014, has devoted most of his career to the planning and execution of fair elections. Prior to joining the EAC, from 2003 to 2014, he served as senior elections counsel and minority elections counsel on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration. Earlier, he was senior lobbyist and policy analyst for Common Cause, and
worked in the Office of Congressional Relations for the Office of Personnel Management. In the course of his job, Hicks meets with election officials across the country (typically in person, but virtually in the COVID-19 era), dispensing advice and resources and sharing best practices among officials from various states. In 2020, the EAC provided $400 million to the states to help them prepare for the challenges of conducting elections during the pandemic. Among its many purposes, the money purchased PPE for election workers and high-speed scanners for the efficient counting of mail-in ballots. The funds were also used to help relocate polling locations to areas better suited for social distancing. Some professional sports teams and colleges even allowed the use of their arenas for voting. The EAC also certifies voting equipment for states through a voluntary program, submitting equipment to rigorous testing in labs in Colorado and Alabama. During his tenure as EAC chair, the agency developed a pocket-sized voter card in both Braille and large print for the visually impaired. “Our agency realizes it’s the states who run elections,” Hicks says. “We don’t go to them and say, ‘This is what you should do.’ We would say, ‘This is what’s working in other states.’ We’re here to help and to work with them to make the process better. The goal of any voting process is to ensure that voters have confidence that their ballots were counted as they intended.” He recalls the Bush-Gore election of 2000 as a source of national, and personal, anxiety and confusion, “where you went to bed thinking one candidate had won, and woke up the next day to see it had flipped twice.” But the aftermath of the 2020 election, with a baseless conspiracy theory inflaming a substantial portion of the national population, left him unsettled and angered.
“People saying the system is rigged does a disservice to the hard work of Republicans and Democrats who ensured this election went smoothly,” he says. “Beyond the politics, this election was run in a pandemic, with people wearing masks and standing six feet apart. Bipartisan teams of election workers would go to the homes of people who had COVID-19 to ensure they could exercise their rights to vote, in a safe and efficient manner. For the process to run as well as it did, with all the obstacles put in its path, was a phenomenal feat. More than 160 million people cast a ballot in this election — the most who have ever voted in our nation’s history.” Hicks is hopeful that the aftermath of future elections will prove less contentious. One clear remedy to dispel misinformation and build trust in the process is for more citizens to become involved with it, he says. Hicks points to efforts underway in Georgia — the site of substantial rancor leading up to the state’s Senate runoffs — where the secretary of state administers an “ambassadors” program that trained 500 high school students to become poll workers. “People who become election workers do it because they love this country and they love the election process, but they also want to improve the process. My advice is to volunteer as a poll worker, take an election job, and see what it’s like from the inside. When you feel you don’t trust the system, one way to gain more confidence in it is to serve from within.” Now is a good time to get started. On any given Tuesday in America an election is taking place, and the federal midterms are less than two years away.
clark currents INSIDE
From survivor to savant / Those limbless lizards / Man of the moment(s) / He helps Beyoncé roar
In COVID, Clark athletes have faced their most unpredictable opponent
Even with their seasons canceled, Clark athletes stayed in the game
ANNAH FAVALORO ’21 compared dealing with the cancellation of her senior basketball season to experiencing the stages of grief. She endured the depression and anger before finally accepting that the sport would not be part of her life this year. “This is the first time in probably 16 years that I haven’t been playing a sport at any time,” she said. “It’s been hard not to identify myself as an athlete.” The COVID-19 pandemic forced the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) to scrub the fall and winter seasons to protect the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, and fans (NEWMAC approved an abbreviated competitive schedule this spring). The decision, while necessary, robbed many Clark studentathletes of the organized competition that had
been a fixture in their lives since childhood. Yet even without games on their schedules, Clark teams continued to practice — masked and distanced — fine-tuning their fundamentals and displaying an admirable level of commitment while patiently anticipating the day they can once again compete in a Cougar uniform. “I’ve used the word ‘empathize’ more in the last nine months than I have my entire life,” said men’s basketball coach Tyler Simms, who conducted drills at the Dolan Field house rather than in the Kneller Athletic Center, which was used as the COVID testing center. “The guys have handled this terrifically and in stride. We say, ‘Control the controllables,’ and they’ve done that.” Simms recruited former Clark basketball players to speak virtually with his players about their careers and passions. Jay Ash ’83, CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, dropped in during the election season to discuss politics. Kevin Cherry ’81, chief financial officer at St. Mary’s High School in Lynn, Massachusetts, talked about finance
and the nonprofit world. And Lawrence Norman ’94, MBA ’95, a former executive with Adidas and a lecturer at Clark, shared his expertise in sports marketing. The players took full advantage of these and other opportunities to expand their horizons. “A lot of the guys used the time away from school and the basketball court to develop themselves individually, whether that was working on basketball, career development, or expanding their network,” Chuck Stevens ’21 said of his teammates. “Almost all them, in some way, have been taking time to do that, which I think is great.” During the fall, student-athletes chased their personal and team goals under the close guidance of Clark Athletics staff, and found themselves practicing in small, tightly monitored groups. To adhere to Clark’s health and safety protocols, their routines included daily temperature and symptom checks, frequent COVID-19 testing (as with all Clark students), and other essential procedures. Men’s soccer captain Alex Nicholson ’21 noted that despite the initial disappointment
of the season’s cancellation, the mood during the fall semester was positive. “With so much of our lives now spent online, it’s a great escape to go down to the field and play,” he said at the time. “Everyone misses game days, but we’re all motivated to work hard and get better for when the team eventually can compete.” Goalkeeper Melvin Vincent ’21 said that while it was strange not to be playing intercollegiate games, there was purpose behind every practice. “If you see someone down or someone doesn’t have the motivation to come to practice, it’s about bringing them up,” he said. “Sophomores, juniors, and first-years all have something to look forward to, and that’s the way you’ve got to motivate them. And for seniors — this is something we’ve been doing our whole lives, so why stop now?” Clark’s volleyball team changed their practice location frequently last fall — from the soccer turf to the left-field corner of the baseball diamond, and sometimes even the cement of the Corash Tennis Courts. “I think they learned to adapt to the challenges that they can’t control,” said coach Mickey Cahoon. “What they can control is how hard they work to get better, and how hard they work to get to know each other and respect one another. They’re building a solid foundation.” Volleyball player Merimo Oka ’22 echoed her coach’s sentiments. “We’re focused on strengthening what we can do rather than complaining about what we cannot do.” Field hockey coach Kate Kurzanski could not have imagined how the first season of her coaching career would unfold. Instead of scrimmages, practices, and face-to-face interactions with her new team, the pandemic forced her to find virtual avenues to connect with her players. It wasn’t until late September that she finally got to hold in-person practices. “I’m trying to go back to the basic skills, but to make it fun,” she said. “I’m here for a reason: to pass my knowledge on to these girls.” As with every Clark team that lost out on a competitive season, field hockey was committed to making the best of 2020 while keeping an eye on 2021. “This is a crucial time for player development,” Kurzanski said. “I’m hopeful and eager to see what everybody will be able to do when we can compete.” - With reporting by Kyle Prudhomme and Aviva Luttrell
Barbara Stevens gets the call for the Hall
Barbara Stevens was the first New England women’s basketball coach to reach 500 career wins. Then she was the first Division II coach to reach 600 wins ... then the first to reach 700 wins. By the time she retired from coaching in 2020, Stevens had accrued a lifetime record of 1,058-291, making her the fourth winningest women’s basketball coach in NCAA history. In 2020, Stevens was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, joining an illustrious class of inductees that included former NBA stars Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and the late Kobe Bryant. Because of the pandemic, their enshrinement has been postponed to May 2021. Stevens spent 34 years at Bentley University and had a stint at UMass. But her career was launched at Clark, where after a year as assistant coach she prowled the Kneller sidelines as head coach from 1977 to 1983, earning a 123-42 record and laying the foundation for her historic career. We caught up with Stevens to learn about her time at Clark and her reaction to news that she’s a Hall of Famer.
Was election to the Hall of Fame a surprise? It was a complete shock! In 2019, I was named a finalist for selection to the Hall of Fame — and was incredibly honored to even be a finalist. After all, induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was something I never ever dared to dream. When I got the call from the executive director and heard the word “congratulations,” I couldn't believe it — I was stunned and very emotional. I’m still in disbelief.
What moments of pride stand out from your years with the Cougars? In the fall of 1976, Pat Hassett, former women’s athletic director at Clark, took a chance and hired a 23-year-old recent college graduate with no coaching experience to lead the women’s basketball team. Things like that don't happen these days, I can assure you, so I was extremely fortunate. I had to learn on the job, and luckily had a great group of studentathletes in my first couple of years. We had some wonderful experiences I will always remember and cherish. My former Clark players are still some of my very good friends. With talented players and great assistant coaches, and an administration that fully supported what we were trying to do, we were able to experience a high level of success, culminating in our two consecutive appearances in the NCAA DIII Final Four in 1985 and ’86. Clark helped me understand how much I loved coaching and helped shape my philosophy: “We must know the person first before we coach the athlete.”
What are your retirement plans? I have done some podcasts and interviews for the WBCA and hope to continue to help that organization in any way I can. I’m content to decompress from coaching right now, but know that I will want to use my expertise in some way when it is safe to do so.
Clark University faculty and administrators published creative and academic works that take readers to the Middle East, onto the streets, and inside the classroom. Mi tierra es una lengua (My Homeland is a Language)
BY BELÉN ATIENZA (SPANISH)
A grant from Clark’s Higgins School of Humanities allowed Atienza to travel to El Salvador to work with an editor on this, her second volume of poetry.
The Activist Academic: Engaged Scholarship for Resistance, Hope and Social Change
Stories From the Field: A Guide to Navigating Fieldwork in Political Science
EDITED BY ORA SZEKELY (POLITICAL SCIENCE) AND PETER KRAUSE
Political scientists from diverse biographical and academic backgrounds describe research in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, ranging from archival work to interviews with combatants.
BY ERIC DEMEULENAERE (EDUCATION) WITH COLLEEN CANN
In an era of corporate media and “alternative facts,” the authors invite academics from across disciplines to enter into a dialogue about how to take knowledge to the streets.
Redesigning Liberal Education: Innovative Design for a TwentyFirst-Century Undergraduate Education CHAPTER CO-AUTHORED BY MEREDITH
TWOMBLY (UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS)
Partnership and Powerful Teacher Education: Growth and Challenge in an Urban Neighborhood Program
EDITED BY THOMAS DEL PRETE (EDUCATION)
This volume offers an in-depth portrait and reference for the development of clinical or school-embedded partnerships in teacher preparation by drawing on the decades-long partnership between Clark University and the Worcester Public Schools. Contributors include Clark associate professors of practice Letina Jeranyama, Carmen Ocón, Heather L. Roberts, and Raphael Rogers, professor of practice Holly Dolan, associate professor Jie Park, program administrator Andrea Allen, and Kyle Pahigian ’06, MAT ’07, mathematics teacher at University Park Campus School.
In this book, higher education experts examine how liberal education is adapting to modern demands, challenges, and opportunities. Twombly, vice president of undergraduate admissions and financial aid, coauthored a chapter with Kristína Moss Gudrún Gunnarsdóttir titled “Shifting Paradigms: College Admissions as a Lever for Systemic Change in Liberal Education.”
The Social Psychology of Collective Victimhood EDITED BY JOHANNA RAY VOLLHARDT (PSYCHOLOGY)
This collection examines the socialpsychological processes involved in experiences of collective victimization and oppression, and the different ways in which people make sense of and respond to these experiences.
clarkwork From limbless lizards to the magic of Bruckner
New additions to Clark senior leadership President David Fithian within the
last year made the following appointments to his leadership team: DANIELLE
MBA ’06, executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer, came to Clark from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where she served as the vice president for adminis-
tration, finance, and strategic development and chief financial officer for four years.
served in the United States Marine Corps from 1998
> PHILIP BERGMANN, associate professor of biology,
Previously, she was senior vice president for finance
to 2003 as a Russian cryptologic linguist. Chearo
recently led a research team studying different species of
and administration and treasurer at Suffolk Uni-
holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of
Brachymeles skinks and how they move and burrow.
versity. She also has served as director of financing
Illinois and a master’s from the University of Chicago.
Skinks are an evolutionary anomaly: originally four-legged
programs for the Massachusetts Health and Edu-
JILL FRIEDMAN, vice president of marketing
creatures, they dropped their limbs about 60 million years
cational Facilities Authority and held administrative
and communications, served eight years as vice
ago, but about 40 million years later, some species grew
positions at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and
chancellor for public affairs at Washington University
them back. The researchers also found a correlation be-
Clark. Manning holds a bachelor’s in English and an
in St. Louis. Prior to joining Washington University,
tween the skinks’ evolution and climate change in the
MBA from Clark, as well as a master’s in public ad-
she was senior vice president and partner at
distant past. Their findings, published in November in the
ministration from Harvard University.
Fleishman-Hillard, a global public relations firm
DAVID CHEARO, vice president for planning and
headquartered in St. Louis. She had previously
strategic initiatives, was most recently chief of staff
worked as a senior staff member to Governor Mel
> Climate change is the subject of the National Oceanic
to the president of Wesleyan University. Previously,
Carna-han of Missouri, serving as the governor’s
and Atmospheric Association’s 15th annual Arctic Report
he was associate vice president at the University of
deputy chief of staff, policy director, and chief liaison
Card, and geography Professor KAREN FREY once again
Chicago, working with then-Executive Vice President
to the White House and Congress. Prior to her time
contributed to the project. Frey was lead author of an
David Fithian, where he led a broad range of planning
with the governor, Friedman worked for U.S. Senator
essay documenting an unusually high level of biological
efforts related to facilities, the campus environment,
Patrick J. Leahy, both in his Vermont district office
activity in the Arctic Ocean. This increase, associated with
cross-unit initiatives and program development, and
and as a professional staff member on the U.S.
declining sea ice and warming seawater temperatures
capital project delivery, among other areas. Prior to
Senate Judiciary Commit-tee. She earned her bach-
throughout the region, impacts the entire food web includ-
that he directed the University of Chicago’s Survey
elor’s in political science from the University of
ing food security for human populations.
Lab for four years and brings with him expertise in
Vermont and her MBA from the Olin School of
survey design, data collection, and analysis. He also
Business at Washington University.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B, attracted major media attention, most notably from The New York Times.
> Biology Professor NATHAN AHLGREN is also studying what happens underwater — particularly why and how marine viruses infect cyanobacteria, a marine organism that is estimated to carry out roughly 15 percent of all photosynthesis in the world’s oceans. Thanks to a $1.12 million
Alan Eisner leads SOM
grant from the National Science Foundation and working with scientists from Roger Williams University, Ahlgren
Clark University named Alan B. Eisner as dean of the School of
hopes to determine the degree to which these micro-
Management. He most recently served as the associate dean for graduate
organisms can infect each other and to identify specific
programs at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University.
genes that control cross-infection.
Eisner, whose teaching interests include strategy, entrepreneurship, and
> PROFESSOR BEN KORSTVEDT, chair of the Visual
organization theory, received his Ph.D. from the Stern School of Business
and Performing Arts Department and director of the
at New York University and, from Cornell University, both a bachelor’s in operations research
Music Program, received the 2020 Claude V. Palisca
and industrial engineering and a master’s in engineering management. He has published more
Award from the American Musicological Society for his
than 30 articles in leading journals including the International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
critical edition of Anton Bruckner’s Symphonie No. 4 in
Advances in Strategic Management, and American Business Review, among others.
E-flat major, second version. This prestigious award is
Eisner has taken an active leadership role with the Management Education and Development
given annually to recognize the outstanding scholarly
(MED) Division of the Academy of Management; he presently serves as program chair for the
edition or translation in the field of musicology published
MED. He has also served as associate editor of the CASE Association’s peer-reviewed jour-
during the previous year.
nal, The CASE Journal.
From survivor to savant It was a clear August morning in 1945 when Kim Chung-yum, M.A. ’59, LL.D. ’95, awoke for training with his military regiment in Hiroshima, Japan. Born in Japaneseoccupied Seoul, Korea, in 1924, Kim had been drafted into the Japanese military at age 20 and was stationed alongside 50 cadets at Okayama Prefecture. As the group gathered for hand-to-hand combat exercises, a B-29 jet flew across the sky, leaving a white vapor trail in its wake. Kim assumed the aircraft was a reconnaissance plane, but seconds later, a yellow-white light flashed and dissipated, plunging the morning into utter darkness. The Enola Gay had just dropped the first wartime atomic bomb on Hiroshima — about a mile from where Kim was standing. The blast and fallout left him with burns on his back, face, and arm, as well as radiation sickness. But he survived. “The thought of returning home to Korea was never far from my mind,” Kim recalled. After the war, Kim began a career in public service to a newly liberated and soon-to-be-divided Korea. Years later, South Korea’s central bank sponsored him to attend Clark University, where he studied under Professor James A. Maxwell and received a master’s degree in economics. By the late 1960s, Kim rose to serve as Korea’s Minister of Finance and then Minister of Commerce and Industry, and subsequently became the country’s longest-serving chief presidential secretary (1969 to 1978). Kim laid the foundation for South Korea’s miraculous economic growth and
industrialization, and he made major contributions to the country’s reforestation, rural development, and construction of the national expressway system. He also oversaw reforms that led to the establishment of a national health insurance system and universal coverage by the end of the 1980s. In 1953, South Korea was one of the poorest nations in the world, with incomes similar to those of today’s Afghanistan. But thanks in part to Kim’s role as one of the main architects of its economy, South Korea became the first country in the world to transition from a net recipient of development aid to a net donor. It also became one of only seven countries to have
both a population of more than 50 million people and a GDP per capita of over $30,000 — alongside the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy. Kim’s memoir “From Despair to Hope” was republished in English by the World Bank in 1994 to help guide policymakers in developing countries. Clark awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws the following year. Kim died on April 25, 2020, at the age of 96. His long life of accomplished service stands as a testament to his towering intellect, devotion to his country, and one piece of raw luck that allowed him to tell the tale of the light over Hiroshima. – Aviva Luttrell
The man of the moment(s)
By Aviva Luttrell
f you attended a lecture, performance, or Commencement at Clark University in the past decade, Jim Cormier likely played a critical role in how you experienced it. As manager of Campus Media Services, Cormier has spent the last 12 years taking care of the campus's audiovisual needs, as well as providing technology support for students, faculty, and staff. While the pandemic has presented new challenges, Cormier has met them head-on, from livestreaming events to enhancing classroom technology for remote and hybrid learning. “I’m a pretty good troubleshooter because of the things I’ve had to piece together for roadshows on a poor musician’s budget,” says Cormier, who plays in an acoustic tropical rock duo. “I know nobody is going to die if I can’t get a projector to work, but I also learned a long time ago that every meeting you go into is somebody’s Super Bowl, and that’s how I treat each event. It has to be perfect.” Cormier began his professional career in 1988 as a convention services supervisor at a hotel, a job that involved setting up audiovisual equipment. He later moved to an audiovisual company that outfitted roadshows and larger productions. A stint operating his own gift shop and a job at another college followed before he landed his position at Clark. Cormier has worked with many notable visitors to campus, including President Bill Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (who
still sends him a Christmas card every year), as well as Nobel Prize winners, popular bands, and esteemed authors and academics. “Everybody’s got a story and has done so many different things in their lives. It’s neat to be able to sit and talk with these people and pick their brains,” Cormier says. “For me, the setup is the same, but the people I get to meet eventually become friends if they come back more than once. That’s fun.” Cormier works most campus events, but Commencement/ Reunion Weekend is always the busiest time of year for him and his team. The pandemic forced last year’s Commencement to a virtual format, which required Cormier to make adjustments, mixing in prerecorded material and working with campus partners to ensure Tilton Hall was a safe, socially distanced environment for the ceremony’s speakers and the video crew. When classes went fully remote last spring, Cormier joined fellow members of the IT team to ensure each faculty and staff member had access to a webcam and microphone, and helped to implement Zoom and Panopto across the University. Cormier also has devised creative approaches to virtual learning, outfitting professors with computer monitors they can use in place of chalkboards and installing high-quality recording equipment in classrooms throughout campus. “Instead of physically setting up projectors and screens, we’re supporting people in other ways with the same goals in mind,” he says. When Cormier isn’t at Clark, he can often be found playing music, a lifelong passion that keeps him grounded. Throughout the pandemic, he and his bandmate (their duo goes by the cheeky name Functional Drunks) have focused on writing songs and building a home studio for recording. They also found a local restaurant that installed a plexiglass booth that allows them to perform live in a safe environment. Cormier plays the guitar, ukulele, and percussion. “We’re being kids again and having fun,” he says. “It keeps me smiling because I can always pick up a guitar and just play, no matter how I’m feeling.” Cormier’s job feels a bit more personal these days now that his daughter is a first-year student at Clark. “The support piece of my job already was big. Now, I’m also here supporting my daughter, which is exciting for me,” he says. “Making sure things work is even more important nowadays.”
He helps Beyoncé roar By Melissa Lynch ’95, MSPC ’15
s a student in the International Development, Community, and Environment Department, songwriter Nana Afriyie, M.A./CDP ’10, would frequently join his classmates on the porch of 10 Hawthorne Street for pot-luck dinners and conversation, an IDCE tradition. “I loved that. It’s the Clark culture, a world within Worcester,” he says. During those dinnertime discussions, he had no idea that just a decade later, he would be in Los Angeles, creating music with a global megastar. Afriyie is one of the African diaspora artists tapped by Beyoncé to create tracks for “The Lion King: The Gift,” an album based on Disney’s 2019 remake of “The Lion King.” Afriyie collaborated with Beyoncé and other writers on two songs: “Don’t Jealous Me” and “Water” (co-written with Pharrell Williams). The album received Grammy nominations in 2020 and 2021. “It was insane,” Afriyie says of the experience. “They’re such dominant forces in the music industry — I’m so honored to have worked with them.”
Along with writing, Afriyie performed “Don’t Jealous Me” and, under his stage name, Lord Afrixana, appeared in “Black Is King,” a visual companion to “The Gift.” You can’t miss him in the “Don’t Jealous Me” video — he wears a huge yellow boa constrictor around his neck. “That snake was heavy,” he says with a laugh. “But it brings the character to life. You walk in a completely different way with a snake around your neck.” Afriyie has written music since he was a young teenager in Worcester. The son of Ghanaian immigrants, he attended Alcorn State University, a historically Black college in Mississippi, for his bachelor’s degree in mass communications. Then, Clark beckoned, and he enrolled in the community development and planning program. “Clark changed my writing completely,” he says. For the first time, he started focusing on “the why” of things.
“I began lifting the curtain in my songwriting. I came at my work like a psychologist. I didn’t have that perspective before Clark.” He
credits those potluck dinners on the IDCE house porch: “That was the first time I had really in-depth intellectual conversations with a global community of people.” Afriyie grew up listening to his parents’ Afrobeat music. He started out as a rapper, then discovered the folk genre. “I started writing these folk-inspired records, incorporating folk and African elements — call and response, percussion and drums, storytelling. I connected with the storytelling of folk music.” After graduating from Clark, he started down the road to a doctorate, but it wasn’t long before he burned out. A call from a friend in the music business led to a publishing deal with BMG Music. Afriyie created a recording studio in his Central Massachusetts home and kept writing. He also taught himself to produce his own music, which allows him the freedom to create while retaining the rights to the master recordings. “I’m taking advantage of what I’ve learned over the years,” he says. “I’m used to betting on myself.”
G i f t s t h at c h a n G e l i v e s
“ Being part of the Clark English Department feels like home.” When Luis e. santos ’21 moved to mainland United States from Puerto Rico, he began studying English — and never stopped. Today, Luis is majoring in English at Clark with a history minor and concentrations in Africana and Latin American-Latinx Studies. This combination allows him to explore a diverse curriculum while laying the foundation for his long-term goals of becoming an educator and published author. “Being a first-generation college student is part of who I am and one of the reasons I take my education seriously,” he says. “I come from a lowincome family, and the scholarships and awards I’ve received at Clark have helped tremendously in my journey.” Your gift funds scholarships that make a Clark education accessible for deserving students like Luis, and helps prepare them to write their next, and boldest, chapter.
M a k e y o u r G i f t t o d ay at alumni.clarku.edu/gift
Or use the envelope inside this issue of Clark magazine.
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University Advancement 950 Main Street Worcester MA 01610-1477
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I BELIEVE WE CAN MAKE GOOD ON THE PROMISE OF OUR GREATEST IDEAS. PRESIDENT DAVID Clark’s iconic pea pod poster — both the original and updated versions — isFITHIAN now available’87 at the Campus Store located in the Shaich Family Alumni and Student Engagement Center. For all your Clark apparel and merchandise, visit the store Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m., or go online at campusstore.clarku.edu.
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In the latest issue of the Clark University alumni magazine, read about President David Fithian's bold vision for Clark's future. Meet Carol...
Published on Jun 3, 2021
In the latest issue of the Clark University alumni magazine, read about President David Fithian's bold vision for Clark's future. Meet Carol...