Clark magazine, winter 2019

Page 1

winter 2019

s c h o o l

o f

r o c k

La rry Web m a n ’92 b ro u g ht C o ldp lay to Ame r i ca, an d C lar k he lpe d him le ar n how to do it

Professor Barbara Capogrosso Sansone reviews quantum physics research with Liana Shpani ’21 during an early-morning session.

Photo by Steve King




Laaleen Sukhera ’99, MSPC ’00, needed an ally to fight for women’s rights in Pakistan. She found one in Jane Austen.

History professor George Billias died last year at 99. But his life’s work and his Clark legacy are ageless.

Pride v. Prejudice

Soldier. Scholar. Sire.



When mothers in a local town feared the water was harming their children, they turned to Clark for answers.

Talent agent Larry Webman ’92 represents Coldplay, Barenaked Ladies, and bands you’ve never heard of — but you will.

troubled waters

On the cover: Larry Webman inside New York’s Bowery Ballroom, the site of Coldplay’s first U.S. concert. Photo by Steven King


school of rock

department s Red Square A father’s story. A son’s voice.

Alumni News It’s always showtime for Steven DePaul.

56 Sports

P re si dent ’s Me s sage

Alumni hockey team’s game is one for the ages.

Class Notes Clark siblings provide opportunities to undervalued workers.

Clarkives Our professors’ primitive performance.


We have to make some noise.”

Dear alumni, families, and friends, Campaign Clark is the most ambitious fundraising campaign in our University’s history. We sought to raise $125 million to invest in students, faculty, facilities, and programs, and I am thrilled to share the news that through the generosity of so many of you, we have surpassed this target goal. Contributions to Campaign Clark to date total over $129 million. The campaign concludes May 31, 2020, and with a year and a half remaining, I am excited to see how far we can go to raise much-needed funds for our University. Campaign Clark is organized around the theme “Now is Our Time,” which brings together our mission and our aspirations. This motto reflects our belief that it has never been more important for Clark to be a leader in liberal education, to empower students from all backgrounds to become thoughtful, compassionate, and creative problem-solvers, and for the University to leverage its research and traditions of engagement to make a difference around the significant challenges facing our country and our world. One Clark student summed this up nicely: We have seen the status quo and know we can do better. “Now is Our Time” describes the high aspirations we have for Clark University, and the vital difference your generosity can make in the lives of our students. Over the past decade, Clark has become an ever more mission-driven institution, and has built the foundations for higher levels of success with innovative educational programs and exciting research possibilities. Our talented students, faculty, and staff stand ready to deepen Clark’s impact and elevate our reputation. To do so, we must expand the resources available to invest in excellence. Our call for support is urgent. Candidly, Clark University is under-resourced. Today we must challenge ourselves to overcome this limitation, decisively, and at this moment of opportunity. Campaign Clark is a comprehensive fundraising campaign. Our priorities include increasing financial aid for students, investing in research support for faculty, and expanding innovative programs across the breadth of the institution. There are many ways to give, including through our annual fund, endowed gifts, and estate planning. We invite all members of the Clark University community to join with us now to invest in the future of Clark. Thank you so much for your generosity and for your commitment to this great University. Sincerely,

David P. Angel

Winter 2019



In the swamp, she finds beauty worth saving

livia barksdale ’19 found herself knee-deep in mud and

muck last summer. To some college students, that might not be an

ideal way to spend school break, but for Barksdale, it was all part of her master plan. Last summer, as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s career

development program, the environmental studies major interned at the 9,000-acre Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge in south-

western Indiana. The refuge’s grasslands and wetlands provide cover for more than 250 species of birds, including bald eagles and endangered barn owls and least terns. Only about 8,000 of the migratory least terns — at 8 to 9 inches long, the smallest terns in North America — remain in the wild. “I learned about all of the operations it takes to run a wildlife

refuge,” Barksdale says, “and I loved it.” She spent most of her days in what many would dismiss as a swamp but what nature lovers might consider the consummate haven for bird-watching. Barksdale’s typical day? Arriving at 7:30 a.m. and then heading out to clear and mow trails, cut fallen trees, clear invasive plants, assess newly acquired land, or adjust the wetlands’ water levels to encourage the growth of plants for hosting migratory ducks and shore birds. She even introduced fledging barn owls to the wild and, after dark, counted bats as part of a national survey. “I love learning about every aspect of the environment,” she says. “I’ve developed a passion for forest and wetland ecosystems.” This was far from the Maryland native’s first conservation experience. She’s interned for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s St. Croix Wetland Management District in Wisconsin, and has volunteered for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Last spring, she studied abroad at the CIEE Global Sustainability and Environment Program in Berlin. In her coursework, Barksdale has “walked the walk” of environmental conservation — quite literally. She took to the woods of Petersham, Mass., in Biology Professor John Baker’s Problems of Practice course, Small-Scale Land Conservation in Massachusetts. Barksdale learned how to monitor preserved land and prepare state-mandated annual conservation restriction reports. In these reports, she and her classmates detailed changes to protected parcels that arose from a number of factors, including human encroachment. “I enjoyed going out in the field and then reading and learning about conservation on a local scale,” Barksdale says. “I’ve experienced conservation at the federal scale, so it was nice getting a wellrounded picture and seeing how different agencies and communities monitor important land.” A two-sport athlete who plays field hockey and softball for Clark, Barksdale will get her exercise in the wild once she graduates. She’s applying to graduate programs in natural resource conservation and also for AmeriCorps and field-based internships. She finds satisfaction in her chosen path, even when it leads into a swamp. “It’s a great feeling to know that the lands I’m working hard to protect will be there for future generations to learn about and appreciate.”


- Meredith Woodward King

CAMPAIGN CLAR K Now is our time.

We hit our goal! But we’re not done yet. Thanks to your generosity, we’ve exceeded our campaign goal of $125 million — the most successful fundraising initiative in Clark University’s history. Let’s maintain that momentum as we continue Campaign Clark through our original end date of May 31, 2020.

Your gift helps fund our University’s mission to educate Clark students who will make their marks in a world that demands their talents and needs their values. Now is our time. Tomorrow is our time, too.

M A K E Y O U R G I F T T O D AY. F O R I N F O R M AT I O N O N WAY S T O G I V E , V I S I T : Winter 2019


editor’s letter Editor Jim Keogh Assistant Editors MELISSA LYNCH ’95, MSPC ’15 MEREDITH WOODWARD KING Designer Kaajal s. Asher Editorial Staff Angela Bazydlo ANNE GIBSON, PH.D. ’95 STEVEN KING Creative Services Manager Lori Fearebay Vice President for University Advancement Jeffrey H. Gillooly

By G e orge , he g ot it

Executive Director of Alumni and Friends Engagement Kevin Wesley

ne day not long ago, Al Southwick called me. “George Billias will be turning 100 soon,” he said. “He’s got a good story. Seems like the perfect time to tell it.” Al, a member of the class of 1941, was a longtime newspaperman who still writes a weekly column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and knows a thing or two about what makes a good story. So I called George. “George,” I said. “I’ve heard you’re coming up on your 100th birthday. I’d love to sit and talk with you about your life and career.” He wasn’t having it. “Jim, I want to finish my memoir first,” he told me. “Let’s talk then.” I was disappointed, of course, and made a half-hearted attempt to persuade the legendary Clark history professor to agree to an interview sooner rather than later, but he was unshakable. Only later could I acknowledge there’s something ineffably beautiful about a man who, even at 99, refused to be rushed; a scholar who insisted his narrative be unveiled as he intended, without interpretation. His memoir got finished; the interview never happened. Professor Billias died before we had our conversation, which I’m pretty sure would have been wonderful (talking with him always was). In a tribute to George that begins on page 24, you’ll find passages from his memoir and reflections from friends, family, and colleagues that tell his story. As Al Southwick promised, it’s a good one. There are others. Clark researchers have done significant investigatory work in the town of Holliston, Mass., where some residents fear contaminated well water may be responsible for health and developmental issues in their children. The findings are informing conversations and strategies among residents and government officials not only in Holliston, but also in Uxbridge, which has asked Clark to lend its expertise as the town struggles for answers to its own water problems. The story in these pages supplies insight into the painstaking process of determining what may be flowing from your tap besides H2O. On a lighter note — many of them, in fact — we catch up with talent agent Larry Webman ’92, who represents bands from Coldplay to the Dropkick Murphys, and TV director/ producer Steve DePaul ’73, who got his start in the entertainment industry working for Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles, among others. Both men learned early lessons about the business while students at Clark — bringing bands to campus, setting up for shows, promoting musical acts in a pre-social media era. Those experiences helped guide them into enviable careers, and we’ve got your backstage pass to discover how it all happened.


Contributing Illustrators JOEY GUIDONE PAUL RYDING Leigh Wells Contributing Photographer saad sarfraz Printed by Flagship Press, Inc. Address correspondence to: or mail to: Jim Keogh Clark University Marketing and Communications Office 950 Main St. Worcester, MA 01610 Letters to the editor are more than welcome — they’re celebrated.

twitter facebook youtube instagram flickr snapchat pinterest linkedin

Visit, the online community for Clark alumni, family, and friends.


Messy desk, brilliant mind

I was sorry to learn of the death of Bob Kates (Summer 2018), who was a warm, wonderful teacher and brilliant researcher. Along with his wife, Ellie, he was instrumental in the founding of Elm Park Preschool for children at risk. They lived above the school. I attended the party at his home celebrating his MacArthur Award, and Monopoly money was strewn about the house. He told a great story about his sloppy desk piled high with papers and books, and stated that he believed the collapsing piles led to cross-fertilization of sources and ideas. He added that he believed every creative scholar had a similarly disheveled desk until he visited the office of a highly esteemed colleague at another university and was disappointed to see his pin-neat desk. He mentioned the appearance of the desk to the professor, who replied, “Oh, that’s my show desk. My work desk is in my inner office.” Bob was delighted to view yet another desk at risk of collapse under piles of haphazardly strewn papers and books. We will not see his like again. Stephanie (Sullivan) Partyka ’78

‘USA’ chant missed the mark

A letter to the editor in the Summer 2018 edition of Clark magazine caught my eye and, frankly, kept me awake. In this letter, I learned that Clark students had led a protest in solidarity with protesters at the University of Missouri. Counterprotesters then chanted “USA” during their protest. The writer of the letter attempts to explain the motivation behind the “USA” chant. I have represented Clark about a dozen times at college fairs. I always consider whether my opinions about Clark are still valuable. After all, I graduated in 1976. However, I tell myself that Clark is still a place of compassion and intellect. That is why I was so shocked by the inarticulateness of counterprotesters shouting “USA.” The writer tried to explain the meaning of this chant. The fact that it needed clarification points to the failure of the message. When I hear a “USA” chant I think of American fans at World Cup games, crowds outside the Iranian embassy after they had taken U.S. hostages, and “USA, love it or leave it.”



I expect students to engage in conversations and display intellect, articulateness, empathy, and activism. It is a sad day when Clarkies think that chanting “USA” reflects well on them or on our school. I am glad to hear that Clark is recommitting to diversity and inclusion efforts. The institution can go a long way toward making Clark a place where intellectuals, activists, and people in general can grow and feel comfortable. Howard Nusbaum ’76

Puerto Rico is resilient

I was touched deeply by Clark magazine’s Summer 2018 cover story by Melissa Lynch. When reading it, I tried to imagine having been at Clark during one of my three and a half years there and it being interrupted by the horrible news from my home that my parents and siblings were dealing with a Category 4 hurricane passing through my island, my home, my beaches, my family, my mountains, my friends. As described in the article, the island was devastated and mostly without power for months. Between September 2017 and the present, thousands of Puerto Rico residents and U.S. citizens, including many professionals, have departed to the U.S. for a better economy and, hopefully, a better life. I am not leaving. I am contributing to future resilience for the island. We’re hoping many U.S. citizens come to Puerto Rico during the winter and stay in our hotels and enjoy our beaches. It is warm, and no big hurricanes are coming our way this year, we hope. I continue to share my excellent Clark experience with prospective students and welcome any contact from admissions, alumni, and/or active students. Frank Inserni ’75

Long live the pea pod

I just finished reading the Summer 2018 alumni magazine cover to cover. It gets better with every edition. This one topped the list for me. The pea pod is back! I actually became a little teary-eyed reading the article. That poster meant so much to me. It was part of the reason I attended Clark. The symbolism of that multicolored pea pod attracted me, like so many



others, because it showed me a place where I would belong. I am so glad that poster is beckoning new students to the amazing place that Clark is. Thank you for your wonderful work on sharing what Clark was and what it is becoming with those of us who are no longer in the Northeast. This is an amazing publication — you make me proud to be a Clarkie. Stacy O’Connell ’92

Dr. Gedney is inspirational

I was very intrigued by our article in the Summer 2018 edition of the magazine, “When the Patients Are Prisoners: Dr. Karen Gedney’s Memoir Recounts Her Career Behind Bars,” because of my longtime advocacy for reforms to our criminal justice and penal systems. Dr. Gedney’s book, “30 Years Behind Bars: Trials of a Prison Doctor,” includes the 1989 incident in which an inmate known as “Moth” barricaded himself and her in the infirmary office, assaulted and raped her, and then held off police for 10 hours before a SWAT team stormed the room and shot the inmate to death. It is a compelling, inspiring, and personal story based on her clinical notes in her diary. I found myself becoming so emotionally involved in her story that I had to put it down for several days. Her book captures both the frustrations and the rewards of providing care in a penal system that is focused on punishment over rehabilitation, which unfortunately is still much the case today. Dr. Gedney’s is a story of the affirmation and healing of a dedicated physician. It is also a motivating story that reminds us that we should choose to focus on mercy and kindness. I am so proud of Dr. Gedney, and that she is a Clarkie. Ralph Anderson ’59

Winter 2019


in the media

“ Because of warming, the Arctic is ‘seeing concentrations of algal toxins moving northward’ infecting birds, mammals and shellfish to become a public health and economic problem.”

Delivering an icy message On Dec. 11, 2018, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released its 13th Arctic Report Card detailing the destructive effects of climate change and other factors on one of the planet’s most vulnerable regions. The report was officially released during a press conference at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in Washington, D.C., where four scientists delivered the sobering news. Among the researchers facing the packed room of reporters was Karen Frey, associate professor of geography at Clark, who has been


a long-standing lead author of the Arctic Ocean Primary Productivity chapter of the Report Card and one of 81 scientists from 12 countries who contributed to the study. Frey highlighted some of the report’s grim findings: melting sea ice due to warming ocean temperatures, the prevalence of toxic algal blooms, and the spread of microplastics in the Arctic Ocean. In the days that followed, Frey was quoted in The Atlantic, The Japan News, on “PBS NewsHour,” and in an article by the Agence France-Presse that appeared globally. She also

was cited in an Associated Press story that was picked up by many national outlets including the Washington Post, New York Times, Daily Mail, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, MSN, and ABC News. Frey’s comments made it into news stories that appeared all over the world, from Australia to Luxembourg, from India to Cambodia. In total, more than 700 media outlets reported on the Report Card’s release, reaching an international audience of an estimated 655 million people. Reporting on Frey’s presentation, the AP wrote, “Because of warming, the Arctic is ‘seeing concentrations of algal toxins moving northward’ infecting birds, mammals and shellfish to become a public health and economic problem.” Two days after the press conference, Frey was whisked to a D.C. studio to be a guest on National Public Radio’s popular call-in show “On Point.” The show was broadcast live and replayed throughout the day and evening on more than 290 NPR stations coast-to-coast. The program is available digitally at onpoint, through WBUR’s mobile app, and as a podcast. Frey took a break from the media demands to reconnect with seven current and former Clark research students who were in Washington to present at the AGU meeting.

red square Inside

Safe travels, Clarkies | Finding strength in disaster | Sox appeal | A not-so-tall tale

My father has given me the gift of perspective.

Michael Ross ’93, with his father, Stephan Ross, survivor of 10 concentration camps

Photo by Steven King

Winter 2019


red square

‘Three Exits’ makes its entrance


hree Clarkies got together last summer to put on a play. Together they made “Three Exits” — written by Professor Gino DiIorio ’83 (pictured above) and featuring Boston-based actors Karin Trachtenberg ’83 and Mary Potts Dennis (who started with them at Clark but transferred in her junior year). “We were a tight-knit group in the Theater Department, dedicated to learning as much as we could about the art form and having a lot of fun doing it,” Trachtenberg told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “Karin wanted me to write something, so I did,” DiIorio says. She also secured the play a spot at the Providence Fringe last summer — the first time DiIorio had a work produced in his hometown of Providence, R.I. The play looks at three lives from the angles of an ex-husband, ex-wife, and ex-girlfriend. “Three Exits” capped off a good summer for DiIorio. “James Hemings,” his play about Thomas Jefferson’s slave chef (and Sally Hemings’ brother), was selected for the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha. The plot involves Thomas Jefferson promising freedom for Hemings, provided he train his younger brother Peter in the art of French cuisine. DiIorio’s “CRIB” was produced at the Playhouse on the Square in Memphis (it won the Playhouse’s 2016 New Works Competition). “CRIB” tells the story of a professor who discovers one of her students, a basketball player, is involved in a plagiarism scandal. “It becomes a battle for the student-athlete’s soul, between her and the coach,” DiIorio says.


Juliet Kyaw ’19 models a WooSox cap.

Sox appeal The Boston Red Sox won the World Series, but Worcester also hit a home run when it was announced in August that the city had lured the Sox’s Triple-A affiliate out of Pawtucket, R.I., and into the heart of the commonwealth. The Worcester Red Sox (aka WooSox) will play in a $100 million ballpark that will be built on an empty industrial lot in the Canal District, near Kelley Square and within walking distance of Clark. Those who recall the terrors of navigating Kelley Square in their car (“Just close your eyes and go!”) will be happy to learn the infamous traffic maze is getting a major redesign with an eye toward vehicular sanity. The first pitch is in spring 2021.

Fabulous 50 at Anderson House Legend has it that a pot of gold awaits at the end of the rainbow. How appropriate, then, that the Clark University English Department this fall celebrated a golden anniversary — 50 years in Anderson House. Alumni, faculty, and students reconnected over bowls of clam chowder at the department’s annual Chowder Fest on Oct. 19, and the following day, at a Homecoming event, faculty held a series of literature discussions with students and alumni. And that rainbow appearing over Anderson House a few days later? Though not part of the official festivities, English majors can surely attach some symbolic meaning to it.

Diversity and inclusion efforts awarded


lark University received a 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. Given annually, the HEED Award measures an institution’s level of achievement and intensity of commitment to broaden diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs, and outreach; student recruitment, retention, and completion; and hiring practices for faculty and staff. Clark offers numerous initiatives and programs through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion that help celebrate the talents, perspectives, and contributions of all students, faculty, and staff on campus. Among them: the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program, which promotes critical dialogue and in-depth examination of diversity, difference, power, and privilege; the President’s Diversity Advisory Council, which advises campus leaders and makes recommendations about best practices in creating a diverse and inclusive campus community; and the D’Army Bailey Diversity Fund, which helps talented students from

historically underrepresented backgrounds finance their education at Clark and assists in the recruitment and retention of a more diverse faculty.

Winter 2019


red square

Alto saxophonist Godwin Louis and vocalist Pauline Jean brought together an all-star group of musicians in the Haitian Jazz Project, which infused The Grind with the energy and vibrancy of Haiti during an October concert. The rollicking performance was part of the Geller Jazz Series.

A special visitor Dr. Azra Khan, Ph.D. ’53, returned to the Clark University campus this past summer for the first time since earning her doctorate from the Graduate School of Geography 65 years earlier. Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Ph.D. ’03, associate professor of geography, found Dr. Khan and her son, Jaleel, roaming the halls of the Jefferson Academic Center and hosted them for lunch at her Worcester home, where she heard stories about Clark in the 1950s.


Finding strength in disaster There was a day when the word “hack” only carried negative connotations, whether referring to an untalented artist or the hijacking of digital information. But don’t tell that to Clark computer science students. This fall, Clark earned top prizes at “hackathons” hosted by MIT, Harvard, Wellesley, and Aalto University in Finland. These are intercollegiate competitions at which students are given a short window of time to solve a problem through software development — a sort of mad rush merging intellect with adrenaline. Among the winners were Geva Segal ’21 and Abdur Rahman Muhammad ’20, who joined more than 1,000 college students from around the world at HackMIT. With a team that also included an MIT student and a student from Tufts, Segal and Muhammad brainstormed technological solutions to real-world problems. They found their inspiration in the weather. “HackMIT took place as Hurricane Florence was flooding cities along the U.S. coastline. We found that in times of disaster, there is an outpouring of desire from the public to help,” says Segal. “Our team decided to develop a mobile app that aims to connect communities during disasters.” They branded their project Stronger Together. With the app, neighbors can help neighbors by volunteering time or resources such as shelter, water, medicine, clothing, hygiene products, and more. The judges were so impressed by this combination of technology and altruism, they awarded the team the “Exploring New Territory” award — one of only six prizes given out to the 250 competing teams. It was a strong showing in any connotation.


A father’s story. A son’s voice.


by Jim Keogh he audience in Dana Commons sat silent, sifting and absorbing the story they’d just been told. There were tears. ¶ They had watched “Etched in Glass,” a documentary chronicling the harrowing saga of Stephan Ross, who survived the horrors of 10 Nazi concentration camps. From the age of 10 to 14, the Polish boy was tortured and starved; he had his back broken, was made to drink chemicals, and hid in a latrine to escape being shot. At Auschwitz, he was selected to die, but fled, and clung to the underside of a train as it rolled out. His entire family, except for one brother, was wiped out in the camps. ¶ Near death and robbed of hope, Ross was “rescued from hell” by U.S. troops who liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945, including a soldier who shared food with Steve and gave him a miniature American flag. That act of kindness reignited the boy’s spirit and restored his faith in the goodness of humankind. He devoted most of his adult life to being a force for both positive change and remembrance, counseling troubled teenagers and teaching schoolchildren the terrible lessons of the Holocaust. Steve spearheaded the creation of the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston in 1995; former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn called him the memorial’s “conscience.” ¶ “My father has given me the gift of perspective,” Michael Ross ’93 acknowledged following the screening. “He’s helped me understand the world better.” ¶ Michael Ross visited campus with filmmaker Roger Lyons in October to talk about the documentary, as well as Steve’s 2017 book, “From Broken Glass,” an account of his journey of survival. With his

father’s ability to communicate impaired by a stroke, Michael, who wrote the introduction and helped research and edit the book, has done much of the speaking for him. Just this past summer, the two were profiled in a segment on NBC’s “Today” show, and have been featured on the news in Boston, where Michael practices law and served on the City Council. ¶ Ross told the Clark audience that for many years his father rarely talked about his ordeal, but certain behaviors hinted at what he’d endured. Food, he said, was always important to Steve, who weighed only 50 pounds when Dachau was liberated.

“Planning around food, talking about food, not wasting food. Food is everything when you can remember what it’s like not to have it.” ¶ In his early forties, Steve Ross began opening up about what he’d experienced. As the film depicts, his most awestruck

Michael Ross '93 with his father, Stephan Ross. (Inset) Stephan as a boy, during his confinement in a death camp.

audiences have been Boston high school students, to whom he’s offered wrenching personal testimony while sometimes dressed in a striped uniform like the one he wore in the camps. ¶ Michael has been at his side for many of these presentations, and bore witness to some remarkable family history. In 1989, Steve Ross appeared in an episode of the program “Unsolved Mysteries,” seeking to connect with the anonymous soldier who’d comforted him at the gates of Dachau. It wasn’t until years later that the man was identified as Lt. Steve Sattler, who died in 1986. On Veterans Day 2012, Steve Ross met with Sattler’s extended family, kindling a friendship that endures today. The reunion is captured toward the end of “Etched in Glass,” punctuating with joy a story that began with such sorrow. ¶ “Every proud son should have a movie like this about their father,” Michael Ross said. “He’s been a source of hope and inspiration during dark times, and as damaged as he was by what he went through, he has always been a great dad. I’m a lucky guy.”

Winter 2019


red square


Safe travels, Clarkies ver heard of “Clark Far”? The term describes the way a

Clark student’s brain distorts their perception of distance once they’ve arrived on campus. For example, you know objectively that any campus destination can be reached on foot from the spot where you are now standing in less than five minutes. But under the influence of Clark Far, the distance between those two points seems to expand, until the prospect of making the trip becomes exhausting. Alison Everett ’20 wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece in The Odyssey Online

explaining the phenomenon, and a follow-up post about the article on Clark’s Facebook page inspired a few prime examples of Clark Far: • Clark Far is when you’re sitting in the front of the caf, and you

didn’t discover the pizza bar in the back until sophomore year. • Clark Far is if you move to Hollywood Street, and you might as

well have moved to Hollywood, Calif. • [Reaching the] Traina Center … from everywhere! We will be happy to report back once the analysis of Clark Time has

been completed.

How a Clark student perceives the distance from Goddard Library to the dining hall.

Earth’s Molotov cocktail


f wildfires in California and melting sea ice in the Arctic aren’t enough to convince some people that climate change is a real threat, what’s left? How about vodka and tomato juice in a glass? The website GrubStreet took on the issue of global warming with the provocatively titled story “Could Climate Change Destroy the Bloody Mary?” The article illustrated how the components of a typical Bloody Mary — including that signature stalk of celery — are in danger of being dramatically curtailed because of climate change-induced disruptions to the food chain. A micro-example of a macro-problem. Among the experts quoted in the story was Ed Carr, director of the International Development, Community, and Environment Department at Clark, who warned that we’ve yet to fully experience the impacts of changes to the modern food system. “The unpredictable ways in which our food system takes up shocks and stressors is the really compelling story here and it is going hugely underreported,” said Carr, who has done extensive research in rural sub-Saharan Africa. “The entire global food system is a nightmare on the horizon.”


A not-so-tall tale


he date was September 7, 1968. Steven Rubin ’71 attended a mixer in Little Commons and spotted two of his fraternity brothers, both basketball players, chatting with an attractive young woman. After greeting his friends, he turned to her and said, “These guys are much too tall for you.” Steven and Doris Terens Rubin ’72 began dating and married three weeks after she graduated from Clark while Steven was attending Tufts Dental School. They ultimately moved to Long Island, raised two children, and Steven became a partner in an oral and maxillofacial surgery group practice in Manhattan. He retired from that practice in 2014, and the couple moved to Needham, Mass., to be near their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. Steven now teaches part time at Tufts and is a surgeon for a group practice one day a week. Fast forward to September 7, 2018. Steven wanted to do something special to mark the 50th anniversary of the day he and Doris met. He’d collaborated with Kim McElroy of Clark Dining Services to set up a private room above the Clark Dining Hall where he could surprise Doris. A red rose, a bottle of their favorite wine, Clark memorabilia, and photos of the couple through the years, including a candid photo from the 1970 Clark yearbook, adorned the table. Steven had convinced Doris they were going to dinner in Worcester after they first stopped by the campus. He brought her to the room, and when Doris saw the table, she broke into tears. “I think I did something right,” Steven says with a laugh. They toasted their 50 years together, then had dinner in the Dining Hall surrounded by Clark students. Steven still marvels at the good fortune that brought them together five decades ago. “I just went to see who was hanging out at the mixer that night,” he says. “You never know what’s going to happen!”

The consensus? We’re great. We know Clark is a pretty terrific place, but sometimes it’s nice to receive validation from others. College Consensus recently named Clark one of “50 Underrated Colleges Doing Great Things,” describing us as “one of the most innovative colleges in America.” Among the virtues cited were Clark’s commitment to Worcester, our emphasis on student engagement and community partnerships, the LEEP undergraduate curriculum with its emphasis on experiential learning, and the Accelerated B.A./Master’s Degree Program that allows qualified students to earn a master’s with the fifth year tuition-free.

Winter 2019





ROCK by jim keogh



Winter 2019


Winter 2019


about working in the business end of music. I was still thinking about a career as a musician,” he says. “It wasn’t until my senior year when I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this.’ ”



he year was 2000. Webman and a colleague, Marty Diamond, both of them talent agents, had journeyed across the Atlantic to meet with the artists’ manager. The two had listened to the early recordings made by the young musicians, who, outside of a small ring of fans in the U.K., were largely anonymous. Not only did they appreciate the music they heard, they sensed the potential of the music yet to be written. This band was special. Thanks to good timing and an even better pitch, the agents emerged an hour later with an agreement to represent Coldplay. “[Lead singer] Chris Martin told us, ‘We’re never going to be a big touring band,’ ” Webman recalls. “Obviously, they’ve evolved.” Have they ever. Webman helped take Coldplay from 500-capacity ballrooms to sold-out stadiums; from English music festivals to global tours. “We didn’t set out thinking we would be representing one of the biggest acts in the world,” he says. “It’s actually a great case study in how to develop a band.”


Larry Webman with Sara Bareilles before her concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver.

As an agent at the highest levels of his profession, Webman can boast his share of case studies. He also knows that while game plans are important, hustle and instinct can rule the day. You don’t wait for lightning to strike; you seed the clouds. It’s how he’s built an enviable career in a competitive-to-cutthroat industry fueled by egos that sometimes outflank talent, one that exploits what’s hot even as it scrambles to answer the eternal question: What’s next?

In high school in Norwich, Conn., Webman aspired to be a professional drummer, and performed at all the typical venues: teen parties, talent shows, assorted garages and basements. He toyed with the idea of attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, then going on to play alongside some of the biggest acts in the business. Webman didn’t just want to make music — he wanted to make NOISE.

His father offered support and encouragement to his musician son, leavened with a dose of parental practicality. Chase your dreams, he counseled, but get an education that will allow you to have a meaningful life and productive career just in case the music thing doesn’t work out. “When you’re a teenager, the thought of failure never crosses your mind, but what my father said made sense,” Webman recalls. A family friend who was attending Clark told him about the University’s active music scene — regular concerts in the campus pub, bands at Spree Day, and shows in Atwood Hall, where Jimi Hendrix and The Grateful Dead once played. He was all in. Webman arrived at Clark in 1988, quickly joined the Pub Entertainment Committee, and found himself lugging PA speakers and cables, sticky from soda and beer, up and down basement stairs to the performance venue. The unglamorous labor was a small price to pay for hearing some great

music that first year: Fishbone, Ziggy Marley, Little Feat, and ’Til Tuesday, the Boston-based band who performed in Atwood just before breaking up. In his sophomore year, Webman took over as Pub Entertainment Committee president. “By dumb luck, the three seniors who ran PEC graduated, and I was the only one interested in taking it on,” he recalls. “I got a two-minute tutorial in how to fax offers to agents and talk to them on the phone. And then it was, ‘Okay. You’re in charge now.’ ” He made his first offer to the band-of-themoment, The Replacements — $7,500 for a show at Clark. The band’s agent immediately called him and unleashed a stream of invective, denouncing the offer as an insult and Webman as a schmuck. What was The Replacements’ asking price at the time? Webman chuckles. “Probably $15,000.” Undeterred, Webman brought all kinds of bands to campus — reggae, blues, and rock of all stripes, including acts incubated in the MTV

universe, like the Spin Doctors and the Psychedelic Furs. The genre-bending Vermont band Phish landed at Clark years before they became a phenomenon. Webman haggled with their manager, who wanted $1,500, and got them to play for $1,350. Hiring bands on the rise came with challenges. In a pre-digital world, raising students’ awareness of the talent soon to be in their midst meant plastering campus with promotional flyers and, well, that was about it. Word-of-mouth was not a euphemism: He literally had to ask Clarkies to attend. “We’d have a great band in the pub, and maybe 30 or 40 people would show,” Webman recalls. His three years as PEC president allowed Webman to foster relationships with talent agents in New York and Los Angeles, to the point where they began calling him to offer bands. The rapport also gave him insight into a potential career path. “I was a business major with a minor in music and I played in bands, but I wasn’t thinking

Webman returned home following graduation and applied for traditional jobs in marketing and human resources, with no luck. At his father’s urging, he paid a visit to a small Connecticut agency that booked tribute bands. “I begrudgingly went down there, a 22-yearold know-it-all,” he says with a laugh. “I walked into the owner’s office — he worked out of a space above his garage. Turns out, his assistant had just given her notice that day, and he hired me on the spot.” After two years spent finding work for musicians channeling Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and AC/DC, Webman was bored. “I asked my boss for permission to book a couple of original bands, and he said fine, as long as I kept the tribute bands working,” he recalls. Webman went out and signed the Boston independent band Letters to Cleo, which eventually signed a deal with major label Giant Records and had one of their videos featured on the popular TV show “Melrose Place.” “At the time, all these agents from L.A. and New York started calling the band’s manager, trying to sign the band. They’d say, ‘This little mom-and-pop agency can’t take you to the next level. You should dump this guy and come with us.’ So what was I going to do? Do I lose this band and continue booking tribute bands, or am I going to try and figure out how to take the next step?” He figured it out. Through an introduction from Letters to Cleo’s attorney, Webman connected with an up-and-coming agent, Marty Diamond, who was then at a large New York agency but was forming his own company. In March 1994, Webman joined Little Big Man Booking, and moved to New York. “My dad drove me to the New Haven train station to take the Metro North Railroad into New York, where I was going to crash on my soon-to-be boss’ couch until I could get an apartment. He said, ‘Look, I hope this works out for you,’ ” Webman remembers. “Again, in my early 20s I wasn’t worried about failure. I just wanted to keep working in music, keep

Winter 2019


about working in the business end of music. I was still thinking about a career as a musician,” he says. “It wasn’t until my senior year when I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this.’ ”

music that first year: Fishbone, Ziggy Marley, Little Feat, and ’Til Tuesday, the Boston-based band who performed in Atwood just before breaking up. In his sophomore year, Webman took over as Pub Entertainment Committee president. “By dumb luck, the three seniors who ran PEC graduated, and I was the only one interested in taking it on,” he recalls. “I got a two-minute tutorial in how to fax offers to agents and talk to them on the phone. And then it was, ‘Okay. You’re in charge now.’ ” He made his first offer to the band-of-themoment, The Replacements — $7,500 for a show at Clark. The band’s agent immediately called him and unleashed a stream of invective, denouncing the offer as an insult and Webman as a schmuck. What was The Replacements’ asking price at the time? Webman chuckles. “Probably $15,000.” Undeterred, Webman brought all kinds of bands to campus — reggae, blues, and rock of all stripes, including acts incubated in the MTV

universe, like the Spin Doctors and the Psychedelic Furs. The genre-bending Vermont band Phish landed at Clark years before they became a phenomenon. Webman haggled with their manager, who wanted $1,500, and got them to play for $1,350. Hiring bands on the rise came with challenges. In a pre-digital world, raising students’ awareness of the talent soon to be in their midst meant plastering campus with promotional flyers and, well, that was about it. Word-of-mouth was not a euphemism: He literally had to ask Clarkies to attend. “We’d have a great band in the pub, and maybe 30 or 40 people would show,” Webman recalls. His three years as PEC president allowed Webman to foster relationships with talent agents in New York and Los Angeles, to the point where they began calling him to offer bands. The rapport also gave him insight into a potential career path. “I was a business major with a minor in music and I played in bands, but I wasn’t thinking

Webman returned home following graduation and applied for traditional jobs in marketing and human resources, with no luck. At his father’s urging, he paid a visit to a small Connecticut agency that booked tribute bands. “I begrudgingly went down there, a 22-yearold know-it-all,” he says with a laugh. “I walked into the owner’s office — he worked out of a space above his garage. Turns out, his assistant had just given her notice that day, and he hired me on the spot.” After two years spent finding work for musicians channeling Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and AC/DC, Webman was bored. “I asked my boss for permission to book a couple of original bands, and he said fine, as long as I kept the tribute bands working,” he recalls. Webman went out and signed the Boston independent band Letters to Cleo, which eventually signed a deal with major label Giant Records and had one of their videos featured on the popular TV show “Melrose Place.” “At the time, all these agents from L.A. and New York started calling the band’s manager, trying to sign the band. They’d say, ‘This little mom-and-pop agency can’t take you to the next level. You should dump this guy and come with us.’ So what was I going to do? Do I lose this band and continue booking tribute bands, or am I going to try and figure out how to take the next step?” He figured it out. Through an introduction from Letters to Cleo’s attorney, Webman connected with an up-and-coming agent, Marty Diamond, who was then at a large New York agency but was forming his own company. In March 1994, Webman joined Little Big Man Booking, and moved to New York. “My dad drove me to the New Haven train station to take the Metro North Railroad into New York, where I was going to crash on my soon-to-be boss’ couch until I could get an apartment. He said, ‘Look, I hope this works out for you,’ ” Webman remembers. “Again, in my early 20s I wasn’t worried about failure. I just wanted to keep working in music, keep

Winter 2019


Webman convenes with Barenaked Ladies as they get ready to go onstage.

booking bands. This was an opportunity for me, and I was going for it.”

From inside a windowless one-room office, Little Big Man was launched. Webman and Diamond outhustled larger agencies to sign acts with record labels — the lack of bureaucracy in their small company helped keep them nimble (Webman eventually became a partner). The two haunted small clubs and festivals, hit every music showcase they could, and traveled to England a couple of times a year to scout talent and network with record labels and managers. They signed musicians at various stops along their professional journeys, from independent bands with small-yet-fierce 20

followings to popular performers at the top of their game, to once-popular acts looking for a reboot. Their roster grew to include Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Arctic Monkeys, KT Tunstall, Sigur RÓs, and Jason Mraz, among many others. For 12 years, the company grew and thrived. As the music business began diversifying, it became clear that more than hustle was needed. In 2006, Little Big Man agreed to a purchase by the larger Paradigm Talent Agency in New York, whose reach extends into all corners of the entertainment industry. “As artists progress in their careers and have families and kids, they don’t want to be on the road all the time,” Webman says. “They’re looking to write books, they want to act, they want to score films. As a small boutique agency, we didn’t have those capabilities. Sometimes

agents lose an act because the artist wants those other things. Now, we have that capability, and do it better than our competitors.” Digital music has dramatically altered the landscape, he notes. Record labels have seen their controlling influence over artists’ careers diminish, as music gets released through streaming channels and other means. Still, the agent’s role is stronger than ever, Webman insists, because without labels doing the grunt work of helping emerging artists launch their careers, agents are even more critical to shepherd them through the process. Ultimately, there is no substitute for pure talent. Webman cites the trajectory of Sara Bareilles, whose 2014 anthem “Brave” became a radio staple. Bareilles has since composed the music for the hit Broadway show “Waitress” and portrayed Mary Magdalene in

booking bands. This was an opportunity for me, and I was going for it.”

From inside a windowless one-room office, Little Big Man was launched. Webman and Diamond outhustled larger agencies to sign acts with record labels — the lack of bureaucracy in their small company helped keep them nimble (Webman eventually became a partner). The two haunted small clubs and festivals, hit every music showcase they could, and traveled to England a couple of times a year to scout talent and network with record labels and managers. They signed musicians at various stops along their professional journeys, from independent bands with small-yet-fierce 20

followings to popular performers at the top of their game, to once-popular acts looking for a reboot. Their roster grew to include Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Arctic Monkeys, KT Tunstall, Sigur RÓs, and Jason Mraz, among many others. For 12 years, the company grew and thrived. As the music business began diversifying, it became clear that more than hustle was needed. In 2006, Little Big Man agreed to a purchase by the larger Paradigm Talent Agency in New York, whose reach extends into all corners of the entertainment industry. “As artists progress in their careers and have families and kids, they don’t want to be on the road all the time,” Webman says. “They’re looking to write books, they want to act, they want to score films. As a small boutique agency, we didn’t have those capabilities. Sometimes

agents lose an act because the artist wants those other things. Now, we have that capability, and do it better than our competitors.” Digital music has dramatically altered the landscape, he notes. Record labels have seen their controlling influence over artists’ careers diminish, as music gets released through streaming channels and other means. Still, the agent’s role is stronger than ever, Webman insists, because without labels doing the grunt work of helping emerging artists launch their careers, agents are even more critical to shepherd them through the process. Ultimately, there is no substitute for pure talent. Webman cites the trajectory of Sara Bareilles, whose 2014 anthem “Brave” became a radio staple. Bareilles has since composed the music for the hit Broadway show “Waitress” and portrayed Mary Magdalene in


Webman convenes with Barenaked Ladies as they get ready to go onstage.

the NBC live Easter production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Yet she was unknown until she showed up at the apartment of Webman’s colleague with her portable keyboard. “She was having no luck getting an agent, so my co-worker agreed to hear her play. That day, he said we had to sign her.” Among his other clients are the Dropkick Murphys, best known for their hit, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” which director Martin Scorsese incorporated into his mob film “The Departed.” The band came into the fold in 2011, seeking to enhance their profile. Webman went to work, helping package the Celtic-punk band into an act that’s gone from playing mid-size clubs to 5,000-person venues. “We figured out how to grow their audience and grow them on the financial end,” he says. They’ve added fresh artists from the U.S., U.K., and Iceland like David Gray, MGMT, Of Monsters and Men, Santigold, and Bastille. Webman can’t attend all his clients’ shows, which take place around the world at any given time, but that doesn’t mean his fingerprints aren’t all over them. A tour starts when a band’s manager informs the agent they want to go on the road. Webman puts together the itinerary of venues, gauging location, size, and availability. He determines how the act will be traveling, assesses the parameters of the tour, negotiates expenses, and is the final word on a host of marketing and media strategies. “Every aspect touches my desk at some point,” he says. “I always go to the first show of the major tours, the New York and Los Angeles shows, and big festivals. You’ve got to remain visible to the artist, because other agencies are always telling them they can do a better job. It’s the nature of the business — the grass is always greener for some people, and you always have to prove yourself.” Bands just a few years removed from playing in their parents’ garages today are tearing up dive bars in New York, Boston, and Miami. They are the undercard at music festivals, where audiences impatiently wait for them to finish their set so the headliners can go on. They lug their own gear, buy their own beers, sing their original music. And they are talented — it’s just that few people know it yet. But Larry Webman does, and he’s working to ensure one day you will, too. That’s his job.

Webman can’t attend all his clients’ shows, which doesn’t mean his fingerprints aren’t all over them. Webman’s client, Coldplay, is one of the world’s most popular bands.

Winter 2019




AY FIALKOV ’77 is doing something

few could dream of. He’s helping to resurrect Woodstock.

law by day, Fialkov began representing music artists

the forefront of developing content for radio, the

on the side, scoring his first major record deals in the

internet, and new media. Fialkov and his colleagues

mid-1980s for The Del Fuegos and ’Til Tuesday.

handle legal and business affairs for a host of familiar

He eventually opened his own entertainment law

series like “FRONTLINE,” “Masterpiece” (producer of

practice. Fialkov represented Phish from their early

“Downton Abbey”), “American Experience,” “NOVA,”

managing legal and business affairs for the

days and negotiated their breakthrough record deal

and children’s series like “Arthur” and “Curious

production of a two-hour documentary recalling the

with Elektra Records (he is credited for “Legal

George.” When WGBH produced a four-hour

seminal 1969 music festival, which will air over PBS

Wizardry” on the band’s album “Picture of Nectar”).

documentary about Walt Disney for “American

channels later this year around the 50th anniversary

Maurice Starr (manager/producer of New Edition

Experience,” Fialkov led negotiations with Disney,

of the event. To do this, he’s been negotiating with

and New Kids on the Block), then-rapper Mark

which is famously resistant to allowing outside use

Warner Bros. to secure rights to use footage from

Wahlberg (when his stage name was Marky Mark),

of Disney-owned content in programs they don’t

the original 1970 Woodstock documentary, as well

along with independent record labels such as

control. “They let us use the materials because they

as outtakes, and guiding the necessary

Rounder Records and Rykodisc, were among his

had the faith and trust we’d do it right, and that we’d

arrangements with representatives of songwriters

many clients. Fialkov also was a founder and owner

be fair and accurate,” he says.

and artists whose music is included in the show.

of the Giant/Rockville record labels that released the

Fialkov enjoys two significant college affiliations.

first albums by the critically acclaimed rock group

Not only is he a Clarkie, but so are his wife, Claire ’77,

program they want to produce, and work with them

Uncle Tupelo, whose offshoots include Wilco and

son, David ’06, and David’s wife, Allison ’05. He also is

to overcome any obstacles along the way,” he says.

Son Volt.

a longtime professor at Berklee College of Music in

“My job is to help our producers create the

Fitting Woodstock into his workday seems a

Internship and research opportunities are a vital part of Clark students’ educational experiences, allowing them to put theory into practice while learning and cultivating skills that employers need now. ClarkCONNECT opportunities shared by alumni have provided transformative networking and career development experiences for many students including Emilee Cocuzzo ’18, MBA ’19, Teodor Nicola-Antoniu ’19, Ogechi Ezemma ’19, and Utkristaa Shrestha ’20.

Get Involved Cynthia Michael-Wolpert ’90 (at right) has embraced the mission of ClarkCONNECT by offering advice to students on the ClarkCONNECT platform, coaching Clark students through the interview process, and connecting students to others in the business and marketing fields.

America’s preeminent public broadcaster, Fialkov is

As deputy general counsel for WGBH Boston,

ClarkCONNECT in Action

“I worked and became friends with many talented

Boston, where he teaches courses on legal aspects of

natural progression for Fialkov. At Clark, the music

people,” Fialkov says. “Thanks to the success of some

the music business and was honored with Berklee’s

aficionado wrote music reviews for The Scarlet

of my clients, I was at the center of fun and interesting

2014 Distinguished Faculty Award. While the delivery

— Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt,

action in the middle of Boston’s exciting rock and roll

of music has progressed from LPs to CDs to MP3s,

and The Talking Heads were among the many

scene, and I was happy to be along for the ride.”

the fundamentals — copyrights and contracts, rights

What is ClarkCONNECT? ClarkCONNECT links students with alumni and others in the broader community — virtually and in person —  for career exploration, preparation, and opportunities.

Alumni participation is the key. YO U C A N H E L P

• • • •

Join the platform Mentor a Clarkie Share an opportunity Hire a student


and obligations — remain the same, he says.

well-known acts who visited campus while Fialkov

In 1995, after 15 years of private law practice,

was here. He earned a law degree and worked for a

Fialkov accepted a new challenge as counsel for

high-end Boston firm as the city’s alternative rock

WGBH. The station produces about a third of the

rest of the journey, it’s not a bad idea to have

scene was catching fire. While practicing corporate

national television programs that air on PBS and is at

someone like Jay Fialkov by your side.

Making great art is only the starting point. For the


Follow ClarkCONNECT

Now is our time. 22

Winter 2019


ClarkCONNECT in Action Internship and research opportunities are a vital part of Clark students’ educational experiences, allowing them to put theory into practice while learning and cultivating skills that employers need now. ClarkCONNECT opportunities shared by alumni have provided transformative networking and career development experiences for many students including Emilee Cocuzzo ’18, MBA ’19, Teodor Nicola-Antoniu ’19, Ogechi Ezemma ’19, and Utkristaa Shrestha ’20.

Get Involved Cynthia Michael-Wolpert ’90 (at right) has embraced the mission of ClarkCONNECT by offering advice to students on the ClarkCONNECT platform, coaching Clark students through the interview process, and connecting students to others in the business and marketing fields.

What is ClarkCONNECT? ClarkCONNECT links students with alumni and others in the broader community — virtually and in person —  for career exploration, preparation, and opportunities.

Alumni participation is the key. YO U C A N H E L P

• • • •

Join the platform Mentor a Clarkie Share an opportunity Hire a student



Follow ClarkCONNECT

Now is our time. Winter 2019



soldier. History professor George Billias died last year at 99.

scholar. But his life’s work and his Clark legacy are ageless.

sire. By Anne Gibson, Ph.D. ’95 / illustration by paul ryding

Winter 2019


(Above) The scholarship came first — among the archives, in the field, at the typewriter. (Right) The accolades followed.

hey gathered in Tilton Hall on an unseasonably warm September Sunday to pay tribute. Family and friends who had treasured his attention. Former colleagues and students who valued his counsel. Scholars awed by his intellect. Rare is the man who, in death, can fill a room as large as Tilton. But when George Athan Billias, professor emeritus of history, passed away on Aug. 16 at the age of 99, the concern was whether the space was large enough to accommodate the celebration of his expansive life. He’d taught history at Clark from 1962 to 1989 and authored many books, including a seminal volume on American constitutionalism, but his reach extended beyond the classroom in ways deeply felt and eloquently articulated. The speakers recalled his sacrifice and heroism as a soldier at some of the most notable battles of World War II. They remembered his talent for establishing deep and abiding friendships that spanned generations and ideologies, crossing social and ethnic lines. They painted a portrait of an exuberant, proud Greek-American and a self-described “provincial son of New England.” His wit, they agreed, never diminished over nearly 10 decades. At one point during the event, a photograph was passed around the room showing a smiling Billias posed at a family gathering in a toga and laurel wreath — proof that he loved a good time. He completed his memoir in his final days, perhaps heeding the long-ago admonishment of colleague and collaborator, the late Gerald Grob, who, when George contracted blood poisoning shortly before a fastapproaching book deadline, told him, “It’s all right to die, but finish the manuscript first.” That memoir, “Becoming a Scholar, Soldier, Sire: The Time of My Life,” captures a life in three acts. And what acts they were.

‘ T o u c h e d by f i r e ’ When George Billias wrote that his years serving in World War II “matured me more than any other single experience in my life,” he undoubtedly spoke for many fellow veterans of America’s “Greatest Generation.” He served with the 9th Armored Division as a medical administrative officer in the European theater, grateful to have the means of saving lives, rather than taking them — a mission he extended to wounded Germans as well. The role did not protect him from the carnage of front-line fighting as he and his men rescued, treated, and evacuated their wounded comrades. Toward the end of the war, when his unit pushed into the heart of Germany, 26

he witnessed what he described as the “mind-numbing atrocities” of newly liberated Nazi concentration and labor camps. Working day and night without relief, he oversaw the evacuation of casualties under intense enemy artillery fire at the capture of Remagen Bridge. He was also part of the combat command awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for “extraordinary heroism and gallantry in action” at the Battle of the Bulge. The man who as a child had idolized the ancient Greek hero Odysseus had himself earned a hero’s designation. In his memoir, Billias wrote: “[W]ar, strangely enough, can transform the fighting into an act of love. Men do not fight for God, flag, or country. They fight for their army buddies. Comrades in combat become brothers, willing to die for one another … I learned, too, a terrible dark beauty about war: it can become an aphrodisiac. Going into combat creates a rush of adrenaline that is like no other. When you pit your life against death, you experience a great sense of exultation. I do not mean to romanticize war because I hate it. But I can understand how some people can become war lovers.” Billias’ maturing process came with scars that extended beyond the tinnitus and hearing loss he incurred on the battlefield. “The war ended, but not for me,” he wrote. “We were ‘touched by fire,’ and in my case, the burning goes on.” In the 1960s, many Clark faculty and students actively protested U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Initially, as a veteran, Billias believed their actions were wrong. At his request, a U.S. State Department representative visited Clark to deliver a brief on the American position. But, according to Billias, the spokesman’s presentation was “so patently weak and his arguments so unconvincing that I was converted instantly to the students’ point of view.” Though Billias supported the Clark demonstrators, he expected them to attend class, “be courteous and not shut down any speaker with whom they did not agree.” For him, a university was a “sanctuary for ideas” — a place where all voices should be heard. In a presentation about Clark’s history created for new faculty members, Billias and Tom Dolan ’62, M.A.Ed. ’63, described how Billias and chemistry professor Knud Rasmussen had accompanied two busloads of Clark student activists to the October 1967 anti-war march on the Pentagon. Billias described the fear that came from seeing the 82nd Airborne Division armed with machine guns in the nation’s capital, soldiers with rifles stationed at the entrances to buildings around the city, and thousands of police deployed against American citizens.

In May 1970, Billias, this time with Clark chemistry professor Ed Trachtenberg, accompanied several hundred Clark students to a sit-in at the draft board office in downtown Worcester. When asked by a police officer to intervene, Billias replied that he had no authority over the students. Nonetheless, worried for their safety, he asked student-leader Joshua Miller ’70 if he would consent to students being arrested one-by-one and escorted down the stairs instead of following the original plan of going limp and being carried away. Miller agreed, and the arrests were made without incident. When the students were jailed, Billias remained to distribute food and coffee and telephone their parents. In the midst of all this, he recalled, one of the students said to him, “You know what this means, Professor Billias — I won’t be able to turn my paper in on time.”

For him, a university was a “sanctuary for ideas” – a place where all voices should be heard. ‘ I d e a s a r e w e a p o n s t h at c a n c h a n g e t h e wo r l d ’ Post-WWII, Billias earned a bachelor’s degree at Bates College and married Joyce Anne Baldwin. Whatever honors and awards he garnered throughout his life, he considered their three children — Stephen, Athan, and Nancy ’77 — to be his proudest accomplishment. It is telling that at least half of his 500-plus-page memoir is devoted to reminiscences of family — his Greekimmigrant parents, siblings, Joyce (who passed away from cancer in 1976) and his second wife, Margaret, his children and his grandchildren. Of the birth of Stephen, his first child, he wrote: “No experience equals the joy of holding in your arms your newborn child the first time. It is as close to immortality as we get.” Winter 2019


George Billias (left) considered his WWII military service one of the seminal chapters in his life.

A burning need to understand the terrible events he had witnessed in World War II and to use that knowledge to explore the pressing questions of the day spurred him to complete a doctorate in history at Columbia University. “I became a teacher in the belief that ideas are weapons that can change the world,” he said. Before accepting an appointment in 1962 to direct Clark’s graduate program in history, Billias served as a civilian military historian with the Air Defense Command and the Eastern Air Defense Force, and taught American history at the University of Maine at Orono. It was at Clark, however, where he found his academic home, and where he discovered his joy of teaching. At the September celebration of Billias’ life, former students remembered a teacher who urged them to produce their best work while earning their respect and affection. John Hench, M.A. ’68, Ph.D. ’78, retired executive of Worcester’s American Antiquarian Society, said Billias paved the way for Hench to attain his dream job. “He encouraged us as we moved through our own careers, complimented us as we celebrated professional achievements, and cheered milestones in our personal lives.” 28

In a tribute read at the September celebration, Michael Leffell ’76 recalled that Billias put “both elbows” into his teaching. “He never made me feel that my research, writing, or analysis was weak,” he said, “only that it could always be more precise. There were always more questions to ask, insights to glean, paradigms to pursue, and, of course, another draft would always be better.” Former Massachusetts state senator Richard T. Moore ’66 summed up Billias’ impact as teacher and mentor in a written reminiscence: “He earned the affection and admiration of undergraduates for the enthusiasm, intensity, imagination, and energy which he injected into his teaching; the regard and esteem of his students for the personal attention he devoted to their education; and the thoroughness of the guidance he provided in their studies.” Billias once recalled his daughter Nancy ’77 telling him of a remark by a former student she ran into many years later. “That man taught me how to think,” the student said of Billias. “On my first exam I repeated verbatim the answers from my class notes. But in the margin he wrote, ‘No, no. I’m interested in your ideas, not mine.’”

‘A h e ro i c e n d e avo r’ In his role as scholar, an activity that he continued until his death, Billias authored, edited, and co-edited a number of volumes on early American history, including a biography of Revolutionary War General John Glover. “General John Glover and His Marblehead Mariners” was named by The New York Times as one of the outstanding books of 1960. A particular aspect of Glover’s story must have resonated with Billias. During the Battle of Long Island, sailors and fishermen secretly transported 9,000 Continental Army soldiers under cover of darkness across the East River to Manhattan, out of reach of the besieging British Navy. Glover’s men would later ferry Washington’s troops across the Delaware on Christmas Eve night to attack Hessian mercenaries at Trenton. In his Bronze Star citation, it was noted that Billias established a ferrying system across the Rhine, allowing wounded Americans to be evacuated. Billias’ book “Elbridge Gerry: Founding Father and Republican Statesman,” published in 1976, the year of the Bicentennial, is an important biography of the man who, in addition to being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, governor of Massachusetts, and vice president under James Madison, is best remembered for giving rise to the term “gerrymandering.” With Gerald Grob, Billias co-edited the two-volume “Interpretations of American History,” now in its eighth edition and for many years the standard college text on American historiography. At the age of 90, in 2009, volume one of his magnum opus, “American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776-1989: A Global Perspective,” was published. Twenty-plus years in the making, it was awarded the James P. Hanlan Book Award from the New England Historical Association. As the publisher states, the book reveals the “spread of American constitutionalism — from Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean region, to Asia and Africa — beginning with the American Revolution and the fateful ‘shot heard round the world’ and ending with the conclusion of the Cold War in 1989.” The topic required Billias to explore the constitutional history of more than 160 countries covering a span of more than 200 years. Harvard University historian David Armitage called the book “a heroic endeavor whose results will be debated and plundered by generations of scholars to come, and whose impact on a wider audience may help to encourage a broader consciousness of America’s more benign contributions to shaping the contemporary world.” Volume two, in progress at the time of Billias’ death, will be completed by two of his close friends, Frank Couvares, a former Clark professor now with the Department of

History at Amherst College, and Peter Onuf, professor of history emeritus at the University of Virginia. Billias need not have been too concerned about his own mortality. He will live on through the global community of scholars with whom he shared ideas; through his children and students; through Clark’s George Athan and Margaret Rose Billias Endowed Scholarship Fund; and in the memories of his vast network of friends. Few who attended the September celebration of George Billias’ life are likely to forget it. Billias made sure of it, choreographing the event himself before he died — from the selection of speakers to the choice of benediction to the singing of “America the Beautiful,” a fitting coda for the historian and patriot. He capped the day off with a perfect bit of fun: an “ice cream bonanza.” As always, George had made sure to put the finishing touches on his manuscript.

A chapter concluded

Sidney Hart, M.A. ’69, Ph.D. ’73, once

recalled that when history professor George Billias perceived that something wasn’t quite right, the pitch of his voice would rise as he delivered a proposed solution. So it was when Hart was writing his doctoral dissertation that dealt with themes of American nationalism, he

heard that familiar pitch. Hart planned to conclude his thesis in the year 1810, but Billias, his adviser, suggested he extend the timeline to include a chapter about the War of 1812. “By that point my time, money, and energy were running out,” Hart remembered in a 2012 story on the ClarkNow news site. “If I included a chapter about the war, there was no way I could have finished the thesis that year. Professor Billias graciously recognized that.” More than four decades later, Hart, the senior historian at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, resurrected the theme in a big way. He curated an exhibition observing the war’s bicentennial, “1812: A Nation Emerges,” which included memorable portraits, paintings, and objects — including a red velvet dress worn by Dolley Madison — that captured a conflict one historian described as “the second American Revolution.” Hart remained close to Billias over the years. “It was his teaching, the example of his scholarship, and his humanity that got me to the finish line at Clark,” he said at the September tribute to his professor. “That was why I continued to seek his advice and friendship, and why I will miss him.” The Smithsonian exhibition allowed the now-retired Hart to tie up a 40-year-old loose end dating back to his mentor’s recommendation about concluding his thesis with the War of 1812. Just before the exhibition opened, Hart sent his mentor the catalogue with a note that read, “Consider this the last chapter.” “He read the catalogue and asked me a series of questions,” said the former student. “Fortunately, I passed the test.” Winter 2019



When mothers

in a Massachusetts town

feared the local water was

harming their children,

they turned to

troubled waters Clark for answers

By M e r e d i t h Wo o dwa r d K i n g


I l lu st r at i o n by j o e y g u i d o n e

llegra (Anderson) Denehy ’95 moved to Holliston, Massachusetts, to raise a family. It was 2006, and Denehy had a 2-year-old and a baby on the way when the family moved into a four-bedroom home in a brand-new development. After her second child was born, Denehy suffered two miscarriages in one year. She didn’t think her experience was that unusual. Among her friends and neighbors, she knew a number of women who were dealing with miscarriages or fertility problems. She became pregnant again, and everything seemed fine — until neonatal testing revealed that her baby, a girl, had only one kidney. At a neighborhood party, Denehy confided in another mother, who lived across the street. “She looked at me, stunned, and said, ‘My son was just born with one kidney.’ That seemed too coincidental.” Denehy considered the other children in the neighborhood with health and developmental issues, and the adults with cancer. She wondered what might be in the water. “I started Googling ‘Holliston water,’ and I was shocked at what came up,” she recalls. “I called the Water Department almost every day. And ever since then, I’ve had Poland Spring water delivered to my house.” So began a decade-long investigation into Holliston’s water quality. As Denehy now knows, Holliston’s wells draw from very shallow surficial aquifers — water-bearing sand and gravel layers 40 to 50 feet thick, which were deposited when Ice Age glaciers retreated. They lie atop fractured granite bedrock ledge, the same ledge underlying the homes in her development. As Denehy began researching the water, her questions piled up, and answers were frustratingly few. In 2013, she decided the case needed some outside intervention, and reached out for the research expertise of her alma mater, Clark University.

6 Clark’s Department of International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) and researchers from Boston University School of Public Health/Department of Environmental Health Science partnered with Holliston residents to conduct an investigation that eventually encompassed researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and the 32

Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The collaboration has drawn the attention of concerned residents, the media, and legislators. The initial findings raise questions about residents’ exposure to contaminants that “have national and global significance for aquifer protection and human health,” according to the researchers’ December 2017 article published in the online journal Water. Thirteen of the article’s 16 authors have Clark ties, including Denehy; IDCE professors Timothy Downs, Marianne Sarkis, and Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger; and nine students in IDCE’s Environmental Science and Policy Program: Bilin Basu, M.S. ’15, Brian Caccavale, M.S. ’17, Stefanie Covino, M.S. ’15, Ravi Hanumantha, M.S. ’18, Kevin Longo, M.S. ’17, Ariel Maiorano ’15, M.S. ’17, Spring Pillsbury ’17, M.S. ’18, Gabrielle Rigutto ’16, M.S. ’17, and Kelsey Shields, M.S. ’15. Birgit Claus Henn, an environmental epidemiologist at BU’s School of Public Health, was the article’s lead author. Like many New England towns using shallow aquifers of similar geology, Holliston has highly variable but quite often moderateto-high levels of the metal manganese in its drinking water. But naturally occurring manganese is not the only issue. The researchers reviewed hundreds of archived documents on five waste sites — three legacy sites and two existing ones — concluding that “solvents and metals have been reported in soil, soil water and groundwater [at sites in Holliston] since the late 1960s.” By viewing geographic information science (GIS) maps created by Ogneva-Himmelberger and the IDCE students, residents could more easily grasp threads of information that had been publicly available for years, but had never before been integrated to yield a complete picture. The findings rattled many in town. “We were able to show there is cause for concern,” says Downs, associate professor of environmental science and policy. “People may have been, and may still be, exposed to multiple chemicals via drinking-water pathways.” Denehy — who had been joined in her pursuit of the facts by two neighborhood mothers, Marcie Randall and Nichole Cordon — had waited patiently for solid information after nearly five years of phone calls to local and state government officials, medical doctors, and university researchers, hundreds of hours conducting online research, and dozens of meetings in neighbors’ living rooms.

photography by steven king

Allegra (Anderson) Denehy ’95 enjoys time with her daughter, Tessa.

“Nobody in town knew what we were doing until Clark University came on board, and the Water article was published,” Denehy says. “We weren’t trying to be secretive; we were trying to be sensitive to the town and residents, and not to cause a panic unless we had some evidence or facts. We didn’t want to be seen as a group of hysterical moms.” The addition to the project of BU’s Claus Henn, an environmental epidemiologist, was essential for understanding the health significance of the findings to date. Her prior research has linked children’s exposure to naturally occurring manganese — both in the womb and during their first few years — to neurodevelopmental cognitive deficits and behavioral disorders. The researchers sought to further explore the link between Holliston’s water, manganese, and children’s health. Last summer, they sent the baby teeth of children from 30 families to be analyzed by Manish Arora, an environmental epidemiologist and exposure biologist at the Icahn School of Medicine. Arora has found teeth to be biomarkers of toxic exposures; he has uncovered lead exposure in the 250,000-year-old teeth of Neanderthals, and has connected tooth abnormalities with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cancer, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. As Clark magazine went to press, the results from Arora’s analysis of the Holliston teeth had not been reported.


In her early investigations, Allegra Denehy grew concerned about what seemed to be a disturbing pattern. “The more people I talked

to, the more I found there were a bunch of weird or unexplained medical issues on my street, especially among kids,” she recalls about the decision to contact Clark researchers. Her daughter, Tessa, had been born with one kidney, and later was diagnosed with autism and epilepsy. Cordon’s daughter had openheart surgery as an infant. Other children had kidney problems, and five were born with rare chromosome 18 abnormalities (Trisomy 18). Anecdotally, concerns exist in the community about the rates of thyroid, breast, and uterine cancer in adults, and rare cancers. Until the Water article, the plausibility of a connection between health issues and drinking-water quality was neither well supported nor generally perceived by residents. Follow-up epidemiological work is beginning to look into this connection, starting with a focus on children’s neurodevelopment because it is very sensitive to risk factors like environmental pollution, Downs says. Sarkis, a community-based health researcher, and the IDCE students organized meetings with residents. Downs brought his background in risk analysis, environmental science, hydrology, and civil engineering. Ogneva-Himmelberger lent her expertise in health GIS. “We listened, and we were moved by the stories residents shared with us,” Downs says. The residents pointed the Clark researchers to five polluted sites in town: the existing waste transfer station; a combustion research center that tests fire-extinguishing and flame-retarding equipment and materials; the Axton Cross Superfund legacy site (a former chemical reprocessing facility); an abandoned private hazardous Winter 2019


may be at risk of consuming water with natural manganese contamination, and of those, close to 1.7 million may also be vulnerable to TCE and other chemicals generated by human activity.


The Holliston study brings to mind famous water-contamination cases depicted in movies like “Erin Brockovich” and the Woburn, Massachusetts-based “A Civil Action.” In each case, one company had released a single chemical that compromised aquifers: hexavalent chromium and TCE, respectively. With its multiple sources and contaminants, one of them naturally occurring, Holliston “reflects comHugh Campos-Martyn ’19 takes water samples in Uxbridge, Mass. Also pictured (from left) plex multiple and mixed exposures that may be more Professor Tim Downs, Gia Coleman ’19, Tom Bosson of the water-testing company Microbac, common that we think,” Downs says. Stephen Lee, M.S. ’19, and Dr. David Tapscott of the Uxbridge Board of Health. “It’s usually not just one chemical or health issue you’re worried about; it’s several,” he explains. “We work to put pieces of data together to see if a comwaste disposal site; and Lake Winthrop (which exhibits residual pelling, coherent story emerges.” herbicide pollution). To understand if Holliston has a deeper story to tell, the Collectively, they zeroed in on several “contaminants of interest,” researchers are now applying innovative methods to detect including mercury, trichloroethylene (TCE), trichloroethane, lead, children’s exposure to manganese and the amount that exists in the arsenic, chromium, and 13 other chemicals known to pose risks to town’s water supply. They received seed funding from Clark’s Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise and from BU, and are people who are overexposed. seeking support for a more complete health study. Researchers also collected residents’ photos and reports of tap Using laser technology for the teeth study, Arora’s laboratory at water turned dark brown by excessive manganese. Holliston’s public Mount Sinai is measuring the children’s manganese exposure from works department has tried to remove manganese, but has not each mother’s second trimester — when baby teeth start budding always succeeded; a new water department director is trying to find — to the day her growing child shed the tooth. Thanks to the ways to improve the town’s treatment system, and the Clark-BU Holliston parents’ carefully preserved and well-documented “tooth team has offered to help, according to Downs. “We don’t just want to fairy” collections, the researchers had numerous samples from identify a problem,” he says. “We want to help find a solution that which to choose. reduces risks.” Simultaneously, the Clark-BU team is collaborating with Ian When Denehy and other newcomers to Holliston first expressed Papautsky from the Department of Bioengineering at the University concern about water quality, many longtime residents and town of Illinois at Chicago, to analyze manganese in tap water samples officials believed the brown water to be more of an inconvenience taken from homes in the baby-tooth sample. They aim to develop a than a health threat — and one easily fixed with filters. The U.S. portable electrochemical sensor for assessing levels of manganese Environmental Protection Agency, after all, classifies manganese as and other metals in drinking water in situ — at the tap. Currently, a “secondary contaminant,” to be regulated for aesthetic, not health, levels in water samples have to be determined by a laboratory. Such reasons, Downs points out. sensors would facilitate testing done by community members, Yet the EPA also has classified manganese as an “emerging contaminant of interest,” issuing a health advisory in the mid-1990s to advise overseen by researchers, and the creation of maps using these data. that infants and children avoid exposure to high levels, he adds. “Community-based health and environmental monitoring in “Because manganese in drinking water has not yet been recogpartnership with researchers and policymakers is a leading edge of nized in the U.S. as a health issue — though the scientific evidence engaged research,” Downs says. “They have been able to use that is growing — it’s not regulated in that way, and there hasn’t been type of sensor for measuring manganese in blood, and we reached an impetus to develop manganese-removal technologies,” Downs out to help develop the capability in water.” says. “Looking forward, over the next 10 to 15 years, I think it will become a bigger concern, and new regulations and treatment technologies will emerge.” The researchers’ focus on shallow aquifers has drawn the interest What are the national implications? Looking at maps of shallow of other communities in and beyond Massachusetts — and for good aquifers with similar geology to Holliston, and data on waste sites, reason. Ryan Kelly, M.S. ’18, showed approximately two million Americans



Tom Bossone of Microbac collects a water sample in Uxbridge. Clark Professor Tim Downs (right) is leading a research team to investigate potential water-quality issues.

“Protections for aquifers are grossly inadequate, in our opinion,” Downs says. “If you’re drawing water from a lake, reservoir, or river, regulations are much stricter. Aquifers are invisible, and underappreciated.” The gaps in protection are troubling, he adds, “because half of the U.S. population relies on aquifers for drinking water. Globally, people also rely heavily on aquifers.” The Clark-BU research team has now been asked to bring their expertise to the nearby town of Uxbridge. Downs, OgnevaHimmelberger, and a new crop of students are working with the community to create a user-friendly “online atlas” that integrates environmental and health information. “Uxbridge has really gotten behind the idea of clean water and a healthy community,” Downs says. “They’re saying, ‘Let’s do everything we can to make sure we’re protecting our drinking water from pollution, and we’re going to work with academics, policymakers, residents, and nonprofits to do it.’ ” The experience has been particularly beneficial to Clark’s student researchers, Downs notes. “Our students learn much more about the science and policy of environmental issues like drinking water pollution by engaging with real people and real places. They are asking questions like: What does the Uxbridge Board of Health need to know? What are residents worried about? What are the potential health risks? How do pollutants disperse from waste sites to aquifers? How can researchers like us help? The place-based learning in partnership with communities is powerful for our students.” Uxbridge officials and residents are concerned about two privately owned sites where millions of tons of waste soil, believed to be from Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel Project (“the Big Dig”) and other

construction sites, were dumped, Downs says. The town is involved in a lawsuit with the landowners, and importation of waste soil has been temporarily halted. Steve Lee, M.S. ’19, is looking into the policies and permitting that allowed this soil import with almost no oversight or community discussion, regulation, or planning. Recently, the Clark-BU team and town officials initiated the sampling of drinking-water wells to see if Uxbridge is facing issues similar to Holliston.


For Downs and Ogneva-Himmelberger, the Holliston and Uxbridge projects exemplify Clark’s broader community-centered approach to scholarship and teaching. IDCE faculty and BU’s Claus Henn are committed to involving residents as partners and co-researchers. The Water article, which credits as co-authors Denehy and the two other mothers first involved with the Holliston project, recognizes that “communityresearcher partnerships are essential for understanding and solving complex problems.” Clark researchers do not balk at reaching out to other institutions when they need additional expertise. “We’ve found partners who have the same kind of mindset,” Downs says. “We need to demonstrate the power of integrative, collaborative approaches to research and problem-solving: Clark can model that for the world.” Denehy, for one, is grateful for her alma mater’s involvement. “Tim and his students put in a lot of hours,” she says. “They investigated the water system and how it works; they mapped the whole town and how the water flows into the wells. It’s a true collaboration, and Clark University made a huge difference.” Winter 2019



Laaleen Sukhera ’99, MSPC ’00, needed an ally to fight for women’s rights in Pakistan. She found one in Jane Austen.

By Melissa Lynch ’95, MSPC ’15 Photography by Saad Sarfraz

| Lettering by leigh wells

Prejudice 36


he women are ushered from reception to reception during the social season. They are young, determined, and each has one goal: to attract the attention of a gentleman in attendance. ¶ The male guests take notice. When a man’s interest is piqued, he finds out all he can about the woman — family background, education, reputation — and, if his family approves, a meeting will be arranged. ¶ It’s a scene right out of “Pride and Prejudice,” something author Jane Austen would have imagined for her 19th-century heroines and heroes. But it’s playing out in 2018 Pakistan, where Austen’s truth — that “a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” — is still considered universal.

I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures.Noneofus want to be in calm waters all our lives. — Persuasion

Jane Austen, who published only six novels (two of them posthumously), remains a popular author around the world. Her books appear on lists of the best novels ever written. Yet in Pakistan, her works are more than entertainment. “Life is very similar” to Austen’s Regency England, says Laaleen Sukhera ’99, MSPC ’00, who recently edited an anthology of short stories called “Austenistan,” paying homage to the novelist. “In Pakistan, it’s still very much about maintaining a social veneer. It’s about what society might think, and competing with one another on so many levels.” Sukhera, who has worked for 15 years as a freelance writer and consultant, is founder of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan (JASP), which started as a Facebook group for like-minded Austen enthusiasts. JASP has grown to include chapters in all of Pakistan’s major cities and boasts an online community from more than 45 countries. Once a year, members gather for an Austen tea, donning period dresses and discussing all things Jane. They also share experiences 38

about the reality of life for women in Pakistan today. “We’re 21st-century women, but we’re surrounded by a Regency mindset,” Sukhera says, referring to the era in British history from the late 18th century to the early 19th century. “Women are expected to marry well during peak childbearing years and even the wealthiest of us mostly live with our in-laws, albeit in a separate wing in an urban mansion.” Pakistani women may be able to work high-powered careers, she adds, but they are dramatically outnumbered in senior positions. And many are prevented from their rightful inheritance by domineering male relatives and mountains of red tape. As for alimony and marital property, there is practically nothing to speak of. While the Regency world may have considerable charm, Sukhera says, “The realities from the era are grim. Jane Austen writes a great deal about practicalities: How much does he have per year, and what is her portion? Is she an heiress? Are they of noble birth? She talks about financial truths, and that’s very much the case here, whether it’s politics or society or family dynamics. It’s all about power through money and class privilege.” Despite their burdens, “Austen’s women are strong and rebellious,” Sukhera says. The books are never “preachy,” yet they are female-centric — which is feminist in itself. Like the women of today’s Pakistan, the lives of the women who inhabit Austen’s world are dictated by society and family. Marriages aren’t always love matches, but may strengthen family fortunes. And “happily ever after” is often anything but.

Ifadventureswillnot befallayoungladyin her own village, she must seek them abroad. — Northanger Abbey Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Sukhera is the middle-born of three siblings. Her family spent part of her elementary school years living in Houston, later returning to Lahore, where she attended a British-curricula high school. She was a voracious reader, and Austen was her favorite. Her older sister attended Clark University for a year and encouraged Sukhera to apply. “I didn’t want to copy my big sister, but I ended up coming anyway,” she laughs. It helped that two of her best friends enrolled not far away at Tufts and Yale. At Clark, she double-majored in screen studies and communication and culture. This was just after the release of the popular film adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice,” with Colin Firth as hero Mr. Darcy. “There was a kind of ‘Darcy Fever,’ ” she says. “That’s when I started noticing how similar life at home was to the culture in the books.” Her honors thesis explored how screen adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels depict a postmodern, transnational form of Englishness. “It sowed the seeds for where I am today.” After interning at Merchant Ivory Productions and earning a master’s degree in professional communication at Clark, Sukhera moved to New York City and worked in advertising and television. She then received news that changed her path: Her mother was very ill. Sukhera moved home to Lahore, and after her mother’s death, she stayed in the city and worked in the television industry. “And suddenly, I found myself swept off my feet and married,” she says, to a businessman whose family owned a chain of private schools. Like “Pride and Prejudice” heroine Elizabeth Bennet, Sukhera wasn’t going to marry simply for convenience and economic security. She would marry for love and have her happy ending.

Happinessinmarriage isentirelyamatterof chance. — Pride and Prejudice

Sukhera’s real-life hero was no Mr. Darcy. The couple had three daughters, now ages 11, 10, and 5, but the marriage was abusive. Her husband, who traveled extensively for work, placed restrictions on what Sukhera could do. When he was home, the stress level would increase dramatically. “Then he would leave again, and I could breathe and write,” she recalls. As her marriage deteriorated, Sukhera found herself identifying more deeply with Austen’s heroines. She began developing “Austenistan” in the difficult summer before her separation, which gave her hope. “It was the one thing that made me happy — besides my kids, of course — but kids make you feel vulnerable as well, because you stay. You can’t just walk out.” In the end, it wasn’t up to her. Her husband took the children and put them in the custody of his mother. Sukhera left the house with nothing but her laptop. She tried to negotiate a separation and joint custody but discovered her husband had already filed cases in court against her. “And believe it or not, Jane Austen was mentioned in court. He kept saying I had abandoned my children for Jane Austen. It didn’t make sense,” she says. Sukhera was awarded sole custody of her daughters once her case reached the high court. “Courts mostly feel that capable mothers are best equipped to raise children. But you’ll generally get meager child support, if at all, unless the father or his family chooses to be benevolent, which is rare.” And in her case, she says, her children’s father refuses to return their daughters at the end of his visitations. Despite preventing her petitions for divorce for the past two years, he has remarried. Sukhera is currently seeking justice through the Supreme Court of Pakistan. “I have high hopes,” she says.

Laaleen Sukhera (second from left) at an Austen tea.

We all have a better guide in ourselves, ifwewouldattendtoit, thananyotherperson can be. — Mansfield Park

Instead of suffering in silence, Sukhera decided to go public, sharing her story on Twitter and in the media, where it went viral among influential circles. “We’re struggling between the old world and the new in Pakistan,” she says. “I’m tired of going along with it; I want to be part of the narrative, and change that narrative not just for myself but for other people in my position.” With her international education and opportunities, Sukhera is considered a woman of privilege in her country. Yet she insists that she and others like her share many of the same experiences as women of lower socio-economic status, which is why

it’s essential they form a united front. “There’s a feminist movement here, and I felt as a single mother I should make my voice heard so that other voices could join me instead of staying mute about their oppressive personal lives,” she says. While it was difficult at first to talk about her crumbling marriage in public, Sukhera knew she had to come forward to protect her daughters — and herself. “I had been pushed against the wall too many times.” As she’s talked to the media about her own situation, she’s discussed the overlap of Jane Austen’s world with that of Pakistani women today. That theme has been central to the high-profile interviews she gave to celebrate the publication of “Austenistan.” The book features seven short stories set in modern Pakistan, inspired by Austen’s novels, and includes a foreword written by Jane Austen’s fifth great-niece. None of the writers, including Sukhera, had published fiction before; their professions include journalism, law, biology, and education. But they all love Austen, and they write about what they know — life in Pakistan today. Winter 2019


Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience — or give it a more fascinatingname: Call it hope. — Sense and Sensibility


“She was smarter than I was in so many ways,” Sukhera says of Jane Austen. “She became engaged but called it off the next day, even though he was a landed gentleman and she would have had a much easier life. But her heart wasn’t in it, so she went against societal expectations and lived by her pen. I had doubts the night before my marriage, but I lacked her courage to cancel my big fat wedding.” Despite her marital strife, Sukhera is grateful. When she first separated from her husband, “I felt like a broken person; I had lost my confidence because it felt like he’d taken everything from me. The rebuilding has been hard, but I think it has worked, because I’ve definitely moved onwards and upwards. “Some people my age may feel their lives are half over; I feel like mine is just beginning. I feel like the 2.0 version of myself.”

alumni news Inside

From the street to Sloan / Valuing overlooked workers / The Alumni Council makes its mark / What are your classmates up to?

Bruce Springsteen was a person I was proud to work for. You realize what effect one person can have for the greater good. – Steven DePaul ’73

Winter 2019


alumni news

Alumni Council is making its mark In November 2018, the newly energized Alumni Council met on campus for the first time in many years. It was an invigorating opportunity to reconnect with other volunteers who care deeply about Clark and its direction. The Alumni Council has spent several years redefining itself and its work. We are in the beginning stages of expanding the Council’s size and scope, and are bringing on new members who come from a range of backgrounds, class years, locations, and professions. Already, our new members are making their mark. The Council is working on several important projects this year: • Diversity and Inclusion. I’ve established a Council task force that will examine ways to better connect alumni of color and LGBTQ+ alumni to Clark. We will hold listening sessions on campus and in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco later this academic year. As we develop new programs and initiatives, we very much want to hear from you and learn about your experiences at Clark, and as alumni. • 50-Year Associates. The 50-Year Associates are those alumni who graduated more than 50 years ago. At present, we do some programming during Reunion Weekend, but want to expand our reach. We’re considering new ideas to connect with our senior alumni, and therefore, we welcome any input. • Communications. Our Communications Committee met with Clark magazine and Alumni & Friends Engagement staff and will be leading some changes to the way Clark collects class news from all of you. Stay tuned! • Awards. We selected winners of three alumni awards, including the new Service to Society Award, which recognizes outstanding work an alumnus has done to benefit communities widely, as well as the Distinguished Service Award and Young Alumni Award. All three awards will be presented at Reunion Weekend in May. Council members also serve in many other ways, including as liaisons to ClarkCONNECT, the Athletic Hall of Fame Selection Committee, and a new volunteer group focused on the Clark Fund. At right is a list of Alumni Council members. If you would like more information on the Council, please contact us at We welcome your ideas and feedback. Fiat lux, Dr. Hope K. Aryeetey ’98

President, Clark Alumni Council


Clark Alumni Council Members, 2018-19

Dr. Hope K. Aryeetey ’98 President Mary Owens ’86 President Elect Ingrid Busson-Hall ’96 Past President Sasha Abby VanDerzee ’00 Garrett Abrahamson ’07, MBA ’08 Ayodele (Michael) Agboola ’19 Robin Cohen ’06, MPA ’07 Corinne Coryat ’21 Genna Farley ’09, MBA ’10 Larry Fechter ’67 Tom Hicks ’93 Rob Leeman ’98 Jason Levin ’96, MBA ’97 Carol Loeb Meyers ’88 Anne McKinnon ’83 Nichole Mercier ’98 Wendy Pomerantz ’92 Michelle Powers ’05 Deborah Roth ’82 Sid Sharma, MBA ’10 Frank Tetreault ’68 Professor Robert Tobin Henry J. Leir Chair in Language, Literature and Culture Gabrielle Totten ’19 Emily Zoback ’08, MPA ’09

class notes

In August, Clarkies from the ’80s gathered in Maryland in memory of their classmate Larry Gary ’85, who passed away on June 12, 2018. Back row, from left: Glenn Marrow ’84, Eric Fields, Mark (C.B.) Cummings, Jill Sege ’85, Mike Reaves ’87, Tyrone Hicks ’86; front row, from left: Darling Richards ’85, Lynne (Howes) Marrow ’84, Crystal (Wheaton) Avakian ’84, and Jackie (O’Connor) Woods. Not pictured: Scott Darling ’84.


WILLIAM ROGERS, a retired analyst and later independent contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency, has published “The Penitent Spy,” co-authored with David T. Lindgren, a professor at Dartmouth College and CIA consultant. The book tells the story of a young man who flees the Sudetenland with his family to escape anti-Semitic persecution in 1938 and eventually becomes an American CIA operative. It is available wherever books and e-books are sold.


THOMAS F. LEE, M.A. ’64, PH.D, has published the novel “In the End,” available on In it, a retired Irish-American detective searches for his lost faith as he tries to solve a brutal murder on a troubled Catholic college campus.


HARVEY KAPLAN was honored by the Open Avenues Foundation of Boston with its Humanitarian Award. Kaplan, an immigration attorney, has represented thousands of individuals, families, and employers over the course of more than four decades in defense of immigrants’ rights. In 2013, Nancy J. Kelly of Greater Boston Legal Services described him as “one of the giants of asylum law in the United States.” Among his accomplishments, he advocated for Haitian boat people in the ’80s and ’90s, insured the rights of immigrants in the face of post-September 11 backlash, and rushed in when 300 workers were arrested in a 2007 New Bedford, Mass., factory raid and sent to detention centers on the Texas border.


Glenn Parish ’71, and wife, Leslie, sponsored a gathering for Clark alumni and friends on Nov. 11, featuring a lecture by Thomas Kühne, Ph.D., director of Clark’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Co-promoted by Florida International University, and hosted at the Jewish Museum of Florida in Miami, the public forum was attended by nearly 60 people. As a member of President Angel’s Regional Leadership Council of South Florida, Parish underwrote the lecture to help widen the recognition and appreciation in the region for Clark’s renowned scholarship. DAVID VOGELSTEIN has been a criminal defense attorney in Marin County, Calif., for 42 years. At Clark, he met his wife, VIVIAN SHERMAN ’69; they had their first date at the Woodstock music festival and have been together ever since. David has been the attorney coach for the record-setting Tamalpais High School Mock Trial Team for over two decades, and has received numerous awards for empowering and leading high school kids of all kinds. Vivian is an educational therapist for learning-disabled children. Their son Eric is a professor of medical and bio-ethics at Duquesne University and daughter Sarah is a special education teacher and supervisor in Oakland. While at Clark, David, along with other students, took over a draft board in Worcester at the height of the Vietnam War and served 10 days in solitary confinement at the old Worcester County Jail. David writes, “Our family has dedicated our lives to the moral paradigm set by my parents, survivors of the Holocaust — my father going back to Germany as an American soldier, fighting at the infamous Battle of the Bulge: Your purpose on the planet is to help others.”


Some of the rockin’est Clark blues fans united at the Brother Kerry and the Hoptones concert and CD release party held at the Hopkinton Center for the Arts (Hopkinton, Mass.) in September. KERRY KEEFE ’87 released his third CD, “Over the Influence,” which is a compilation of blues covers from his music heroes. The hippest of the hip who attended were, from left: Gerry Bingham ’90, Mel Higgins ’87, Dave Luria ’87, Andy Liverant ’87, Allison Modi-Insall ’87, Bro. Kerry Keefe ’87, Dan Morse ’87, George Caccavaro ’87, and Jeff Cicone ’87.


STEVEN GREENBAUM has been named a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, which is the highest faculty recognition within the City University of New York system. Steven, a member of the physics faculty, is an internationally recognized leader in the development of new materials for electrical energy storage. Also acclaimed for his pioneering work in the field of solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance, he is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring; and in 2014-2015, he served as a Jefferson Science Fellow in the U.S. Department of State. He also is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Steve is serving as a consultant and senior adviser at Ionic Materials, a battery startup company outside of Boston.


JIM DEMPSEY, M.A. ’78, co-authored the catalogue for a successful art exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His essay accompanied “Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso from the Scofield Thayer Collection,” an exhibition of about 50 nude drawings by eminent artists of the time, which were owned by prominent Worcester-born art collector Schofield Thayer (Thayer donated part of his collection to the museum upon his death). Dempsey wrote the biography, “The Tortured Life of Scofield Thayer.”

Winter 2019


class notes

LELAND STEIN, co-owner of Regent Theatre Arlington, received the Executive Director’s Choice Award from Arlington [Mass.] Community Media Inc., which is given to “someone in the Arlington community who has greatly contributed to the communication arts and cultural health of the town.” He is most proud of the dozens of events the theatre has hosted over the years that featured and/or benefited an array of ethnic and cultural communities, from Tibet to Haiti, Nepal to Uganda. He writes, “Sometimes the joke is made that the Regent is ‘the United Nations of theaters’ — but, safe to say, there’s certainly some truth to that!”


LEE PLAVE was named Franchise Lawyer of the Year at the Who’s Who Legal Awards (WWL) in London. The awards recognize the leading lawyers in each legal field, based exclusively on the findings of an independent six-month research process that includes feedback and peer-review from private practitioners, clients, and other experts in the sector. WWL also ranks Lee’s firm, Plave Koch LLC, fourth internationally among all law firms in the franchise arena.



FRANCIS P. DAUPHINAIS ’87, MBA ’88, is senior vice president and chief financial officer at Bay State Savings Bank in Worcester. Previously, he was a senior manager at IC Federal Credit Union, most recently as senior vice president of finance and administration and chief financial officer and senior vice president of special projects. Francis also serves as treasurer of the Board of Trustees and chairs the Finance Committee for the Sizer School in Fitchburg.

LISA M. COLOMBO, MHA ’93, is executive vice chancellor for Commonwealth Medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Previously, she was senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at UMass Memorial Medical Center. Lisa has taught doctoral-level courses in the Graduate School of Nursing and also was associate dean for clinical practice. Lisa earned her doctor of nursing practice degree at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions.



DAN DiSANO served as Clark University’s delegate for the inauguration of Union College President David R. Harris on Sept. 8, 2018.

MAUREEN HEALY ’94, MBA ’95, has published “The Emotionally Healthy Child: Helping Children Calm, Center, and Make Smarter Choices.” Her first book, “Growing Happy Kids,” won the Nautilus and Reader’s Favorite Book Awards in 2014. She also writes a popular blog for Psychology Today. Maureen’s work has appeared across a large number of media outlets, including PBS, Forbes, Huffington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. Based in Santa Barbara, Calif., Maureen continues to work with clients directly, while also traveling to speaking engagements worldwide. As an avid learner and teacher, she seeks to grow from every person she meets and experience she has. “Life is never boring,” she says.


’90 1991

’80 1981

JEFFREY SIEGEL hosts the podcast “Straight No Chaser,” which has received Best Podcast awards from the JazzTimes Readers Polls for 2017 and 2018. He also plays bass in the rock band Axis, which recently made its Worcester debut.


ROGER ZIEGLER wrote and performed in “Sister Pirate Sister!” which was produced as part of an evening of one-acts at the New York Theater Festival’s annual Summerfest. Roger is an author, actor, producer, and New York Press Association award-winning journalist. He co-authored “Pee On It and Walk Away: How to Deal with Difficult People; Life Lessons from Superdog Abby,” which was an bestseller, as well as the acclaimed young people’s adventures, “Hannah Grace and the Dragon Codex,” books 1 and 2. Among his other achievements, he wrote the play “Ekner’s Pages,” was the tour manager for the international hit “GOLF: The Musical,” and created marketing for the Broadway productions of “Spring Awakening” and the revival of “A Chorus Line,” among others.

JASON FEIFER has co-authored “Mr. Nice Guy,” a comic novel about the pursuit of success in life and love in today’s working world. His co-author is Jennifer Miller, a novelist and journalist who is also Jason’s wife. Publishers Weekly wrote, “Sharp and satisfying, this well-plotted, expertly characterized tale will have readers turning the pages quickly to get the latest dishy details.” Jason is editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, host of the podcast Pessimists Archive, and previously worked as an editor at Men’s Health, Maxim, Fast Company, and Boston. LARRY OSSEI-MENSAH is the Susanne Feld Hilberry senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. An independent curator, cultural critic, and cofounder of ARTNOIR — a global collective of arts professionals — he has curated numerous exhibitions for museums and galleries including the Nahem and Smack Mellon galleries, both in New York, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. JOHN S. MANGIARATTI is the town manager for Acton, Mass. Prior to working in Acton, John served as the deputy town manager in Andover and the assistant town manager in Westford. After receiving his bachelor’s in geography with a concentration in urban development and social change from Clark, John earned his master’s in public administration from the

rapport with individual learners in and beyond the virtual classroom. Ubaraj, associate professor of English, has published numerous professional articles, as well as a book chapter in “Plants and Literature: Essays in Critical Plant Studies.” He currently is researching, among other things, literary violence in contemporary postcolonial fiction. After receiving his master’s from Clark, he went on to earn a doctorate in English from Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y.



(Clockwise from left) Leah Penniman, John S. Mangiaratti, and Lauren M. Hersh Starke and Kevin M. Starke.

’02 John W. McCormack School of Graduate Studies at the University of Massachusetts - Boston. LEAH PENNIMAN ’02, MAT ’03, has published “Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.” According to a recent story on NPR, the book details her experience as a farmer and activist, how she found “real power and dignity” through food, and how people with no experience in gardening and farming can do the same. She and husband, Jonah Vitale-Wolff ’02, started Soul Fire Farm, located about 25 miles northeast of Albany, in 2007, where “they and staff members train black and Latinx farmers in growing techniques and management practices from the African diaspora, so they can play a part in addressing food access, health disparities, and other social issues.” The two were profiled in the Fall 2016 issue of Clark magazine.


LAUREN M. HERSH STARKE married Kevin M. Starke in a small, private ceremony at the gazebo at Firefighter’s Park in Great Neck, N.Y., on March 24, 2018. Lauren works as a professor and writing tutor at several colleges in New York. Her husband is an electrician for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, under its Local 25 union.


JEFF CRAMER has released his first album, “Northern 45,” which features 11 original tracks written at various outposts from along the northern 45th parallel, as well as a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Colorado Girl.” The album was recorded at the Bombshelter recording studio in Nashville, Tenn., often described as an “analog paradise” and home to award-winning records from the Alabama Shakes, Margo Price, and more. Along with his music, Jeff has worked to promote local renewable energy. Currently, he leads a national coalition of businesses and nonprofits working to expand access to solar.

DIANA LEVINE organized the third annual Photo Shoot for a Cure, which took place in Boston in September to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. This year’s event raised over $54,000, bringing the total raised since 2016 to over $100,000. The event is a photography-inspired cocktail party featuring photo booths for portraits, and headshots with hairstyling and makeup. It also features photo galleries and various auction items. Diana, a well-known photographer, organizes the event in support of her mother, who was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease 14 years ago.


STEVEN BRUSO, M.A. ’08, is assistant professor of English at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. He teaches the freshman writing sequence, early British literature, Shakespeare, the history of the English language, and topics in medieval literature. SAM MATTERN-SCHAIN has completed his Ph.D. in bio-organic chemistry and recently began as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Tennessee. Sam writes, “All of this started with a B.A. from Clark, and although my career has shifted away from writing, the training I got at Clark and the craft that I honed in the English Department has served me extremely well.”


MATTHEW COLPITTS earned his doctorate in education in July 2018. His dissertation was titled, “Emergency Management and Preparedness at Higher Education Institutions: Perceptions of Senior Student Affairs Officers and Emergency Managers.” In August, he married Tiffany Lee and now has two awesome “bonus” kids. The family is living in New York City, trying to eat all the pizza.


UBARAJ KATAWAL, M.A. ’07, is the recipient of Valdosta State University’s 2018 Presidential Excellence Award for Online Teaching. This award recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates a strong commitment to quality online teaching and learning; employs innovative online teaching practices; and develops

’07 Winter 2019


class notes


ARMEN KASSABIAN has been selected for a 10-month U.S. Department of State fellowship to teach English at the Mauritius Institute of Education in the Republic of Mauritius. He is one of only 170 U.S. citizens selected for the 2018-2019 English Language Fellows Program. Armen has taught English and English to Speakers of Other Languages at Mamaroneck High School in Mamaroneck, N.Y.; American Sign Language at Harvest Collegiate High School in Manhattan; reading at Bronx International High School; and French at Leaders High School in Brooklyn. While working as an English teaching assistant in Brazil, Armen published a book, “Beyond the ‘To Be’ Syndrome: A Creative Approach to Teaching Language.” DUC NGUYEN is the founder and director of Succulents Box, a socially conscious company focused on giving back and bringing nature into every home. Duc plans to expand Succulents Box (succulentsbox. com) with the addition of several team members, a bigger warehouse, hundreds of new succulents species, and a wide variety of plant-related merchandise. He says, “I was greatly inspired by my business professor, George Gendron, and other extraordinary Clarkies. The knowledge I acquired from economics, accounting, customer behaviors, and human resource classes at Clark has been a tremendous help as I try to grow my company. I’m deeply grateful and extremely proud to be a Clarkie!”

’11 Nathan Eagan ’11 and Julie Erthal Eagan ’11, M.A. ’12, were married on Oct. 6, 2018, at Oakbourne Mansion in West Chester, Penn. Clarkies in attendance were (front, l. to r.) Nathan Maltais ’11, Molly Gumpert ’12, David Balme ’13, Julie and Nathan, Dan Vladimer ’11; (back) Joshua Bruckner ’11, M.A. ’12, Kevin Kopec ’11, Danielle Nickerson Kopec ’11, Andrew Agostini ’11, and Ben Seel ’11. KATE PERILLO ’09, MAT ’10, is a doctoral candidate at UMass Amherst, and is excited to return to the Clark English Department to teach Introduction to Literary Analysis. She has also authored “The Science-Fictional Caribbean: Technological Futurity in Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber and Beyond,” which was published in Small Axe.

KRISTINE RESENDES ’09, MSPC ’10, is the co-founder of Social Thrive, a Boston digital marketing and advertising agency serving Greater Boston, New England, the tri-state area, Chicago, and California. Her company recently rebranded from Social Drive to “Social Thrive” to recognize its growth and greater capabilities. She co-founded the agency in 2012 as a social media content scheduler. Today, it has more than 51 clients ranging from Boston restaurants to national mobile app developers.



Julia Greenspan married Shawn Skolky on May 5, 2018, in Providence, R.I. Clarkies in attendance included, from left: Katy Nowoswiat ’12, MBA ’13, Meredith Juliana ’12, Hannah Atkins Miller ’12, Shawn and Julia, Sydney Breteler ’12, Jean Jackson, ’12, and Ann Rokosky ’11, MAT ’12.


ALISHA POLLASTRI, Ph.D. ’10, has published “The School Discipline Fix: Changing Behavior Using the Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach,” a complete guide to a paradigm-shifting model of school discipline. With her co-author, Dr. J. Stuart Ablon, Alisha has been working with schools throughout the world to refine the Collaborative Problem-Solving approach, creating a step-by-step program for educators based on the recognition, from research in neuroscience, that challenging classroom behaviors are due to a deficit of skill, not will. Alisha is the director of research and evaluation at Think:Kids, a program in the psychiatry department at Massachusetts General Hospital, and is on the faculty at Harvard Medical School. ALEX STANMYER ’10, MAT ’11, recently sold a story to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. He thanks the Clark English Department for setting him on the science fiction and fantasy and writing path.


DAN DEUTSCH ’13, MSPC ’14, is the marketing and communications manager at the Greater Hartford Arts Council, New England’s largest independent arts council. In April, Dan also brought The Denim Project to his city of Hartford. What started as his senior project at Clark is now a grassroots movement dedicated to raising awareness of sexual violence through art, community, and conversation. The Denim Project allows attendees and participants to engage with difficult and potentially triggering topics in a more accessible way. A portion of the proceeds were donated to the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and Dan looks forward to working with The Denim Project again in the future.


TYLER DAHLBERG, M.S./GIS ’14, is on the Geo team at, helping to create the world’s largest accommodations database. He writes, “I perform spatial analysis, answer business questions, and work with enormous amounts of geographic data in Python, Hadoop, Spark, and good old desktop GIS.”


JULIANE STRAETZ, M.A. ’16, has published an article, “The Ordeal of Labor and The Birth of Robot Fiction,” in the academic journal Amerikastudien/ American Studies. This piece was born from the master’s thesis she wrote at Clark.

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: or 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, Assistant Editor Clark University Marketing and Communications 950 Main St. Worcester, MA 01610

From the street to Sl oa n


hen he performed on the streets of Boston, Rob Salafia ’76 was learning how to establish his presence in front of an audience. ■ When he walked across a wire onstage, he was navigating through his fear and finding his balance in life. ■ When he acted, tap-danced, or told stories, he was preparing for a career helping others to discover their own unique voice. ■ He just didn’t know it yet. ■ Salafia went on to transform his many years in the performing arts into a successful career in leadership development and education, and today works as a lecturer and executive coach at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He has written “Leading From Your Best Self: Develop Executive Poise, Presence, and Influence to Maximize Your Potential” (McGraw-Hill), detailing his journey from the stage into the worlds of business and higher education. ■ In the book, Salafia shares ideas, concepts, strategies, and stories to illuminate how leaders can bring their best selves to their roles and create environments that allow others to do the same. ■ His own best self was influenced by his Clark experience. One of six 1972 graduates of LaSalle Academy in Providence, R.I., to attend Clark (which may approach a record for a single school in one year), Salafia started out as a psychology major before switching to geography. His college adventures included a semester spent in Katmandu, Nepal — where he witnessed the coronation procession of the king and queen — and the study of mindfulness meditation in Northern India. ■ He could have entered a Ph.D. program in geography, but instead, as he describes it, “took a left turn” into theater. Salafia learned to juggle and started to perform in Worcester, Boston, and cities across North America; he took acting classes, and developed and took his one-man variety show around the world. He learned tap dancing under the masters, including the great Gregory Hines. When he was cast in the lead of a Boston musical production that required he learn how to walk on a wire, Salafia rigged a wire in his apartment and spent countless hours not only mastering the technique but also conquering his fear of heights. ■ “Being a performer teaches you an immense number of skills,” he says. “You learn how to connect with an audience and hold their attention. More importantly, you learn to allow the audience to connect with you.” ■ Salafia brought those skills with him when, in his mid-30s, he transitioned from performing to a position as a rehabilitation counselor at Boston University, helping people with emotional disabilities regain a work identity. He later worked 12 years at a training company, where he sold, taught, and designed leadership programs that have incorporated theater-based methodologies to help executives improve their communication skills — programs that have been used by thousands across the globe. A major achievement was having Harvard Business School integrate the programs into its MBA core curriculum. ■ As a sought-after keynote speaker, lecturer, author, founder, and CEO of Protagonist Consulting Group (, Salafia is committed to helping organizations build and share their leadership and communication strategies in ways that are authentic and compelling — and successful. He’s got their attention. - Jim Keogh

Winter 2019


class notes

S ibling s’ c ompany off ers undervalued workers va luable opp ortunitie s


s a speech-language pathologist, Amelia

Willcox ’13 has a special connection with people who have different ways of thinking and learning — she is one herself.

She has dyslexia, and her twin brother, Oliver ’13,

lives with a communication disorder. Despite their challenges, they thrived at Clark.

“We were

looking for a liberal, diverse school,” Willcox says, “and we found it.” They also appreciated Clark’s work with the Main South and greater Worcester communities. “We try to do that in our own lives, to help people who need it.”

At Clark, the siblings

received support to help them succeed. From audiobooks to extra time on tests, these services were important as they worked toward their degrees (Amelia’s is in psychology; Oliver’s, mathematics and economics).

Amelia earned a master’s in speech-

language pathology from Northwestern University, and Oliver holds a master’s in statistics from Loyola University. But once they entered the workforce, Oliver discovered many doors were closed to him. His trouble communicating verbally led to his being passed over for jobs because he wasn’t “a cultural fit,” his sister says. “He has the skills, but he also has a communication disorder, which he works hard to address. It is not something that affects his ability to do the job.”

Neurodiversity is a broad category of conditions including autism,

He wasn’t alone. Amelia says she and her family heard from

communication disorders, ADHD, dyslexia, and mental health

others about the challenges faced by those who have commu-

conditions like depression and anxiety.

nication disorders or are on the autism spectrum. “You’ve worked

“reliable and good at what they do,” Amelia says. They may have

hard to get to the place you’re at, yet when you keep hearing you

different ways of learning and communicating, but neurodiverse

wouldn’t be a good employee, it’s defeating and demeaning,” she

employees often possess an above-average ability to see patterns,


From Oliver’s experience, Iterators LLC was born. The

These employees are

perform technical tasks, and repeat iterations, she explains.

company performs a range of software testing services, such as

Amelia teaches sessions about professionalism in the workplace,

user-experience testing and searching for glitches, bugs, or

since, in many cases, Iterators is a first job for its employees. They

anything that could lead to a less-than-optimal experience for the

share what helps them learn, such as video training, extra sessions

end user. They also perform data analysis for their clients and are

and repetition, or explicit written instructions, so the training can

a “trusted tester,” certified by the Department of Homeland

best suit their skills. “Training might take a little bit longer or be


more in-depth, but it’s just good management,” Amelia says. “We

Iterators is a family affair: Amelia and Oliver’s parents

are co-founders of the certified women-owned and managed

take the time to invest in the people we hire.”

company and work as the managing member and test manager.

over time more companies will be willing to take a chance on

She hopes that

Amelia, a full-time speech-language pathologist at a Boston-area

neurodiverse employees. “They deserve to work — they need to

private school, also works part time at the company as the

work to have an independent life. If others aren’t ready to hire people

professional development specialist, and Oliver is a full-time

who might be different, we will.”

- Melissa Lynch ’95, MSPC ’15

software analyst. Their employees have backgrounds in data science and statistics, and are “neurodiverse,” Amelia says.


Learn more about Iterators LLC at

in memoriam Gale (Closter) Nigrosh Gale Hilary (Closter) Nigrosh died on Nov. 1, 2018, at age 71, due to complications from an aggressive attack of pneumonia. She was born in Washington, D.C. and lived in the area until she moved to New York City to attend Barnard College. In 1968, she and her then-husband, Leon Nigrosh, moved to Worcester, where she began a 20-year career teaching French and linguistics at Clark University. While teaching at Clark, she completed her doctorate at Brown University. When diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she found she could no longer stand in front of a classroom. She regretfully left Clark and went on to a 25-year career with the Worcester School Department as the coordinator of programs linking the public schools to area colleges and universities. She leaves her husband, Bob Sakakeeny; daughter, Maya Nigrosh; son, Matthew Sakakeeny; granddaughter, Ella Sakakeeny; her brother, Harold Closter; and her 102-yearold mother, Rose Closter.

Louis Colonna-Romano Louis Michael Colonna-Romano passed away on March 21, 2018, in Boston. He retired as a lecturer in physics at Clark University in May 2017, following a long career as a teacher, researcher, and mentor. Colonna-Romano’s Clark colleagues honored him with a remembrance in the journal Physics Today, recalling a brilliant physicist who was offered a scholarship to MIT while still a junior in high school. He eventually earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in physics from the Stevens Institute of Technology. He served at the U.S. Army Ballistic Research Laboratories, Aberdeen Proving Ground. “Louis was dedicated to his students and was a mentor to many, as evidenced by the large number of students who came to his office at all hours,” his colleagues wrote. “With razor-sharp wit and broad knowledge, he often included a relevant line or two of classical poetry or a historical reference in casual conversations. “His colleagues at Clark and his collaborators elsewhere as well as his former students miss him deeply.”

Seymour Hayden Seymour Hayden, 94, former chair of the Mathematics Department, passed away Feb. 18, 2018, at his home in Miami. Hayden was an outstanding teacher and adviser, but he was probably most widely known at Clark for his harpsichord performances of Bach and Scarlatti. He served in World War II in a tank unit, and lost a leg in the fighting. During his recuperation, he became aware of men with more grievous wounds, and found himself visiting them to give comfort and support. He began teaching at Clark in 1957 while still a grad student at Harvard, having been recruited by Daniel Gorenstein, the Mathematics Department chair. He went on to complete his doctorate in 1963 under Richard Brauer. His research was part of a major international effort of 20th-century mathematics — the classification of the finite simple groups — which had been initiated by his adviser and led to a successful conclusion by many mathematicians under Gorenstein. At some point during his graduate career, he attended a harpsichord recital and, as he said years later, realized, “That’s what I want to do.” He became a student of Ralph Kirkpatrick, a preeminent harpsichordist, and studied with him while working on his dissertation. Hayden and Clark colleague John Kennison collaborated on a set of notes for a graduate class that resulted in the 1968 book, “Zermelo-Frankel Set Theory.” When Gorenstein left Clark in 1964, Hayden took over as chair of the Math Department. He left after the 1967-68 term to join the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Lehman College in New York. In 1980, he retired to devote himself full time to music and to tour with Quadro Barocco, an early instrument group. “Sy was well-known at Clark for his wonderful harpsichord concerts, which he gave in his apartment about two blocks from Clark,” Kennison recalls. Hayden also performed on campus, and was especially known for his interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which he recorded some years later. Hayden had a profound influence on his students. “He was funny and had a subversive sense of humor,” recalls Howard Sachar ’68. “He was enormously kind. The support he gave during our time at Clark, and long after, shaped my life.” - Submitted by Prof. Jay Beder ’68, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Winter 2019


in memoriam David L. Thurlow

The late Professor David Thurlow doing one of his favorite things — enjoying time with students at Annie’s Clark Brunch.

Extraordinarily gifted. Rock star of advising. A true gentleman. These were some of the descriptions of David L. Thurlow, professor emeritus in the Carlson School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Clark University, delivered during a celebration of his life in Tilton Hall on Sept. 25, 2018. Thurlow passed away on Aug. 4 at the age of 69. A native of Maine, Thurlow earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Bowdoin College and an M.S. in limnology at the University of Maine–Orono before completing a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. Thurlow served Clark University in what his wife Andrea described as “a perfect match” for 32 years. His many roles included teacher and researcher (with an emphasis on protein-RNA interactions). But it was as adviser to undergraduates interested in pursuing careers in the health professions where Thurlow found a special calling — through his service to Clark’s Pre-health Career Advising Program and directorship of the new undergraduate concentration in public health. Thurlow published research showing that students who started at community colleges performed just as well in medical school as those who completed all their undergraduate studies at a four-year institution. According to colleague Mark Turnbull, professor of chemistry, the findings “really changed the way that both the medical schools and the professional organizations viewed community colleges. I know that Dave was particularly proud of the results of this work.” Pinky Htun ’17, a biochemistry major who is now an associate scientist with Bluebird Bio in Cambridge, Mass., recalled that, during her senior year, when she confessed to Thurlow that she was confused about her next steps, he told her, “Fear paralyzes us. That realization will set you free.” Noted Denis LaRochelle, professor of biology, “He showed what it meant to be a good person, and his impact extends beyond Clark University.”


Angela Bowen, M.A. ’94, Ph.D. ’97 Angela Bowen, M.A. ’94, Ph.D. ’97, the first recipient of a doctorate in women’s studies from Clark, who led a varied and influential life as a dancer, dance teacher, scholar, and passionate voice on lesbian, black, and feminist issues, died on July 12, 2018, in Long Beach, Calif. She was 82. According to her obituary in the The New York Times, Bowen “wrote and spoke frequently on equal rights and related issues and was active in groups like the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays.” Earlier in her career, she “shaped countless young lives” through the Bowen/Peters School of Dance in New Haven, Conn., where she taught children raised in difficult circumstances. “She empowered me to feel that I could be just as beautiful as anyone else,” recalled LaChanze, a former student and Tony Award-winning actress. In the 1990s, Bowen, who had earned a bachelor’s degree at the College of Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts, earned her master’s and doctorate at Clark. She joined the faculty of California State University, Long Beach, teaching in the English and the women’s, gender, and sexuality studies departments. Bowen later joined the Jazz Train, a musical revue playing in Europe that depicted the history of American black song and dance. Her activism was evident at rallies and in her work with groups like the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays, where she was a board member, co-chair, and editor of the group’s magazine. She wrote for various publications and spoke at and helped organize rallies and marches, according to her obituary. She was the subject of a 2016 documentary, “The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen.” She leaves her wife, Jennifer Lynn Abod; her children with her former husband Ken Peters, Ntombi A. Peters and Jomo K. Peters; a stepdaughter, Elaine Peters; a foster daughter, Sharon Smith; a granddaughter; and two sisters.

Pas s ing s

Ivan J. Birrer, M.A. ’40, Ph.D. ’47 Springfield, Ill., 5/6/2018

Margery A. Tibbetts ’54 Columbus, Ohio, 7/15/2018

Gael A. Evans ’71 Worcester, Mass., 9/5/2018

Frank E. Marsh ’42 Rutland, Mass., 5/17/2018

Carol S. Baker ’55 West Boylston, Mass., 3/14/2018

Ira W. Moulton ’71 New Braintree, Mass., 3/19/2018

Lillian A. Luksis ’44 Worcester, Mass., 7/1/2018

Herman O. Stekler ’55 Rockville, Md., 9/4/2018

Dennis A. Baron, MBA ’72 Canandaigua, N.Y., 7/5/2018

Herbert I. Abelson ’47 Princeton, Mass., 9/9/2018

Anthony H. Almasian ’56 Massena, N.Y., 4/18/2018

George W. Martin ’72 West Boylston, Mass., 9/17/2018

Joan A. Harvey ’47 Fort Myers, Fla., 9/2/2018

Ryland F. Rogers ’56, P ’96 Hingham, Mass., 7/2/2018

William E. Ward, M.A. ’72, Ph.D. ’77 Chesapeake, Va., 7/10/2018

Doris G. Smith ’48 Shrewsbury, Mass., 7/6/2018

Burton P. Hoffner ’57 Hewlett, N.Y., 3/30/2018

Mitchell Harvey ’74 Key Largo, Fla., 11/24/2018

George N. Ellis ’49 Worcester, Mass., 7/4/2018

Ronald H. Rogstad ’57 Peterborough, N.H., 3/29/2018

Paul F. Rinkus ’74 Shrewsbury, Mass., 4/11/2018

Lorraine T. Snodgrass ’49 Portland, Ore., 3/16/2018

Alice P. Shamgochian ’57 Gardner, Mass., 6/27/2018

Richard L. Blake ’75 Leominster, Mass., 7/8/2018

Pearl Burton ’50 Clinton, Mass., 3/27/2018

Norman E. Down ’62

Frank J. Messina ’76 Logan, Utah, 7/29/2018

D. Harold Goldberg ’50 Waterford, Conn., 5/2/2018

Lawrence T. Lewis, M.A. ’62, Ph.D. ’71

Betty K. Manning ’50 Dallas, Texas, 7/18/2018 Walter J. Pacek ’50 Palatine, Ill., 5/28/2018 Herbert S. Sperry ’50, M.A.Ed. ’57 Newcastle, Maine, 4/8/2018 Eleanor M. Ewing ’51 Peabody, Mass., 7/26/2018 Roland J. Frodigh ’51 Eastham, Mass., 5/31/2018 Anne Marie Murphy ’51 Worcester, Mass., 3/31/2018 Gerald Schuster ’51 Boston, Mass., 10/17/2018 Albert A. Gammal ’52 Holden, Mass., 4/8/2018 John H. Madaus, M.A. ’52 Zelienople, Pa., 5/22/2018 Alice U. Nordstrom ’52 Worcester, Mass., 10/4/2018 Janet A. Patterson ’52, M.A. ’54 Williamstown, Mass., 7/2/2018 Milton J. Cooke ’53 Elk Grove, Calif., 6/15/2018 Philip F. Mulvey ’53 Needham, Mass, 8/9/2018

Georgetown, Mass., 3/27/2018

Sierra Vista, Ariz., 5/1/2018 Gerald D. Porter ’62 Worcester, Mass., 10/19/2018 Paul W. Lauf ’64 Greece, N.Y., 5/16/2018 Barbara M. Rowell, M.A.Ed. ’64 St. Petersburg, Fla., 8/3/2018 Nancy L. Vargo ’64 Belchertown, Mass., 9/17/2018 Simon Baker, Ph.D. ’65 Greensboro, N.C., 5/9/2018 Richard W. Brosnihan ’66 Holden, Mass., 8/7/2018 Walter A. Morin, Ph.D. ’66 West Bridgewater, Mass., 4/11/2018 Robert E. Black, M.A. ’67 Mattapoisett, Mass., 5/2/2018 Bruce G. Butterfield ’68 Holden, Mass., 4/15/2018 Dennis P. Leonard ’68 Millbury, Mass., 8/24/2018 Thomas A. Manion, Ph.D. ’68 Albany, N.Y., 6/26/2018

Donald E. Anderson ’77 Worcester, Mass., 6/10/2018 Judith A. Nelson ’77 Millbury, Mass., 6/23/2018 Robert E. Blett ’79 Westerly, R.I., 7/30/2018 Thomas R. Ball, MBA ’83 Woodbridge, Va., 7/25/2018 Sarah H. Goldstein ’83 Brookline, Mass., 4/27/2018 Susan P. Leader ’84 Rochdale, Mass., 7/31/2018 Joyce Brown ’85 Worcester, Mass., 3/22/2018 Larry W. Gary ’85 New Haven, Conn., 6/12/2018 Kathleen Maguire ’86 Gaithersburg, Md., 7/29/2018 John A. Whites, MBA ’87 Douglassville, Pa., 5/1/2018 Robert W. Kates, D.Sc. ’93 Trenton, Maine, 4/21/2018 Angela Bowen, M.A. ’94, Ph.D. ’97 Long Beach, Calif., 7/12/2018

William F. McMahon ’68 Shrewsbury, Mass., 9/20/2018

Ann M. Sabulis, M.A. ’95 Worcester, Mass., 8/11/2018

Frederick J. Kaplan ’69 West Hartford, Conn., 9/27/2018

Louise B. Reneau ’99, MSPC ’03 Northbridge, Mass., 10/4/2018

Winter 2019


alumni news

it's always showtime for steven depaul


By Jim Keogh

teven DePaul ’73 has known his share of famous people. He tuned guitars for Joni Mitchell, kept the books for Bruce Springsteen, and learned the secrets of making good television from “NYPD Blue” creator Steven Bochco. They all had an impact on him. But so did Joe Bailey. Bailey was a custodian at Clark in the 1960s and early ’70s when Atwood Hall throbbed and shook with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, and James Brown. When DePaul arrived at Clark in the fall of ’68 and joined the Social Affairs Board, he helped stage shows in Atwood, and quickly discovered that Joe was the students’ best ally for making those productions hum. He gave them access to the lightboard and let them prowl the auditorium before and during the concerts. “Joe was a really great man,” DePaul remembers. “He put up with us, even when our eyes were dancing.” His experiences with both the Joe Baileys and the James Browns of the world helped nudge DePaul toward a career that gave him a front-row seat and a backstage pass to legendary music acts, and eventually led him into a career in television.


Steven DePaul in the Tribeca section of New York.

Before he’d even enrolled, DePaul was familiar with the Clark music scene thanks to his brother David ’69, who was active in the Social Affairs Board. Steven would take the bus to Clark from their home in Manhattan to see some of the greats perform. (Not long after graduating, David, who worked for a music agency, died in an accident while driving a band to a New Hampshire gig during a snowstorm.) Steven had been at Clark only a day when Bob Echter ’69, the head of the Social Affairs Board, asked him to recruit some guys to set up for a show in Little Commons featuring Chuck Berry and J. Geils. Then there were Ray Charles, Janis Joplin, and Procol Harum. Frank Zappa played in the Women’s Gym; jazz and folk artists from Charles Mingus to Maria Muldaur performed on campus. With Holy Cross students, the SAB co-produced a performance by The Who in the Holy Cross field house in 1969. “They played ‘Tommy’ all the way through. That concert was insane.” “The first time I was ever on a tour bus was the day after the Flying Burrito Brothers played at Clark. I rode with the band to a bank at Webster Square to help them cash their check so they could get to the next venue,” he recalls. A few years later, DePaul wound up working for the band’s co-originator, Chris Hillman. After Clark, DePaul took graduate courses in Boulder, Colorado, but left school to join the road crew of the country rock band Poco alongside Clark friend Jimmy Collins. That work got him connected to other bands, and he and Collins, while living in Worcester, routinely went on tour, driving trucks, unloading gear, and doing whatever needed to be done to set up and break down a show. “It was a gamble on their part, but we made relationships and people trusted us,” he says. “They knew we’d show up at the gig and that we wouldn’t crash the truck — that we’d do the job they were paying us to do.” When an amplifier blew, he fixed it. He navigated heavy equipment into cramped college auditoriums and vast sports arenas. He bridged the cultural divide between the road crew and unionized stagehands. DePaul also had access to seminal rock moments, including the first live performances of the Eagles’ “Hotel California” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”

“The first time Bruce played ‘Born in the USA’ — well, who knew? You might not know at the time how special that moment is, but you look back and can say, ‘That was pretty cool.’” In 1981, DePaul bought an Apple II computer, intrigued by the possibilities of the nascent technology. Using primitive spreadsheet software, he taught himself how to build a financial model for a concert, something not yet being done in concert circles. Word got around. “I became ‘the guy with the computer,’” he laughs. His facility with numbers earned him work as production manager for Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and as tour accountant for Dan Fogelberg. In 1984, DePaul was recruited as tour accountant for Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” tour (he would do three tours in total with Springsteen). “Sometimes you do something, and it becomes what you compare everything else to,” he says about the Springsteen tour. “Beth (Rendeiro ’76) and I got married during the tour and celebrated our anniversary on the tour’s last night. It became a period of my life that was just so special; it was such an adventure, and it was with great people.” Springsteen was a relentless promoter of, and donor to, local food banks, which gave DePaul the pleasure of cutting checks to food banks in every city the tour visited. “I have the highest respect for Bruce,” he says. “This was a person I was proud to work for — never mind that his music was insanely good. He had these rowdy audiences, and he would stop the show to speak to them — about a food bank! And when he spoke, it didn’t matter how rowdy they were — the audience shut up and listened. You realize what effect one person can have for the greater good.” DePaul traveled the world with Springsteen, but it was a 1988 concert in Los Angeles that helped launch his television career. While in the city, he hooked up fellow Clarkie Bill Finkelstein ’75, a writer/producer on the hit Steven Bochco series “L.A. Law,” with Springsteen tickets for himself and friends from the show. A year later, Finkelstein and Steven Bochco were planning a radical new series called “Cop Rock” that blended a police procedural with musical numbers. Bochco suggested Finkelstein bring in DePaul to

manage the unit responsible for the music scenes. “I flew out to meet with them, and I asked, ‘So, what’s the job? They said, ‘We don’t know — you’ve got to figure it out.’ I said, ‘Great. That’s what I do.’” His move into television gave DePaul a path out of the music business. By now, he and Beth were preparing for a move to L.A., and he was eager to come off the road. The couple later had two children, Nicky and Rosy. “At a certain point, you just know it’s time,” he says. “I could work the 15-hour days — that’s all I ever did. The difference is, now I could go home at night.” Though “Cop Rock” was short-lived, Finkelstein and Bochco recruited DePaul to be an associate producer on a show they were developing about divorce lawyers called “Civil Wars,” where he learned post-production skills. His New York roots brought him to the attention of David Milch, creator of “NYPD Blue,” who made DePaul a second-unit director on the show, responsible for shooting New York footage that would be incorporated into the narrative. After a couple of years on the second unit and doing post-production work, he was given the opportunity to direct. “I directed two or three episodes a year, and worked as a producer who sat on set and made sure other directors stayed within our guidelines,” he says. “And I got to learn from the best. When you sat in a story meeting with Steven and David, or watched cuts of shows that other people shot, it’s like going to grad school. These guys are like giants.” DePaul has directed dozens of episodes of popular series, including “Bones,” “Grimm,” “The Good Doctor,” and the “NCIS” and “CSI” franchises. Recently, he was back in New York directing episodes of a new NBC series, “The Village,” which chronicles the intersecting lives of residents in a city apartment building. The show is similar in spirit to the network’s hit series, “This Is Us,” building on the notion that family — including the family we create from friends and neighbors — presents us with our stiffest challenges and deepest joys. “All you can do is bring all your knowledge about your life and your craft with you,” he says of directing. “And then you make the best show you can.”

Winter 2019


Preparing students for takeoff

Frank Tetreault ’68 has traveled the world in the sky, but his heart remains grounded at Clark. The retired pilot and Arlington, Virginia, resident has displayed remarkable commitment to his alma mater, serving as class agent for more than 30 years, being part of the Alumni Council, and helping lead efforts to attract new Clark students from the Washington, D.C., area. Last spring, Frank was honored with the Distinguished Service Award, recognizing his efforts on behalf of Clark University. It has indeed been a distinguished journey for the former psychology major and co-captain of the baseball and basketball teams, who followed a 20-year Air Force career with 17 years as a United Airlines pilot and another five flying for airlines in India, Kazakhstan, and Libya.

In honor of Frank’s 50th Clark reunion last year, he and his wife, Kate, established a charitable gift annuity (CGA), which combines a tax-deductible charitable gift to Clark with beneficiary payments for life at a fixed rate of return — and the rates recently went up for the first time in several years. The couple established a second CGA this past fall. “I was the first in my family to attend college, and financial assistance allowed me do that,” Frank says.“Clark led to a good life for me, and I want it to do the same for others.” Combine your charitable giving to Clark with your longterm financial planning with a charitable gift annuity. To get a personalized CGA illustration with your payment rate and charitable deduction calculation, contact Mary Richardson, director of planned giving, at 508-793-7593 or or

CAMPAIGN CLARK Now is our time. 54

clark currents Inside

A primitive performance | The write stuff | Talking women in STEM | Making ClarkCONNECTions

A game for the ages The goals? Score. Have fun. Don’t break anything.

photo by steven king

Winter 2019



They may be old(er), but they’re still in the game It’s Friday night at the Buffone Arena in Worcester, and a hockey game is going on. This is no ordinary game. There are no referees to keep the peace — the players self-police just fine (indeed, they’re remarkably friendly). The skating, shooting, and passing are solid; the checking nonexistent. And the disparity of ages between the two teams is — well, “vast” might not be too strong a word. The older players have decades on their opponents. They also have ready access to beer on their bench. The annual Clark University Alumni Hockey Game, held on Nov. 10, continued the long tradition of pitting seasoned players against student-athletes to see if years of rink savvy can


outpace fresh legs. The actual competition is only one part of the event, according to Lee Plave ’80, the game’s organizer and unofficial historian. In fact, the game is almost a distraction from the real purpose of the get-together: to reconnect with dear friends. Hockey is just the excuse to do it. Plave says the annual hockey reunion offers a chance to restart conversations “that have been going on for 30 years.” He describes the game itself as “a conversation interrupted.” “We’ve all told so many stories,” he adds with a laugh, “and at least half of them might be true. My buddy’s rule is that if he’s heard a story three times, then he’s become a part of it.” This night, Plave has made the trip from the Washington, D.C., area, where he practices law, but he’s sitting out the game. He made it all the way to Worcester before realizing he’d forgotten his shin pads. “I’ll play without a helmet. I’ll play without a cup. But I’m not playing without shin pads,” he insists. Hockey at Clark has been a club sport for many years, but for four years beginning with the 1977-78 season, it was played as a Division

III varsity sport, according to Plave. He served as both an assistant to the coach, and then assistant coach starting under Scott Abbey ’74. “Steve Cooperman (’80) had 108 goals for Clark when we were D-III,” he recalls. “It was an NCAA record at the time.” Plave easily ticks off names of the players who regularly return for the Alumni Hockey Game (as professional and personal obligations allow), like Tom Dolan Jr. ’79, Dave Kahl ’81, MBA ’84, Scott Love ’81, Dave Fried ’81, and Steve Kennedy ’88. Most of the alumni players keep their skills relatively fresh by competing in recreational leagues; not long ago, several participated in a hockey camp in Minnesota. “Dave Kahl was the best player in camp,” Plave says. Kahl, who played center and left wing at Clark, recalls attending a club fair during his first year at Clark “and there were all these crazy guys talking about the hockey program.” He joined, and quickly found himself among a fraternity of players who enjoyed a unique chemistry, linked by their love of the game and their reputation as “instigators of fun.”

(Opposite page, l. to r.) Scott Love ’81, Dave Kahl ’81, MBA ’84, Lee Plave ’80, Tom Dolan Jr. ’79, and Dave Fried ’81.

“I’m not sure you can match the closeness of this group,” says the Chicago-based Kahl, who competes in the alumni game about every other year. He credits Plave with being “the glue that keeps this whole thing together.” “I think of those Clark times very fondly,” he says, “especially my experiences with the people I played hockey with, and continue to play with.” Back in the day, Clark played its home games at Holy Cross and at a (long-gone) rink in Webster Square with ice surrounded by chicken wire instead of glass. This evening in the frigid Buffone Arena, the players on both Clark

teams, mostly men but some women as well, bear down as they race across the ice, attacking the nets. There’s no shortage of scoring. Final tally: 10-9 in favor of the students. Youth won out this time. No matter. “We love the game and we love each other,” Plave says of his comrades on blades. “It’s a brotherhood. We didn’t have frats at Clark, and for a lot of these guys, this was our chance to bond. You lived with other players who might not have been just like you, and learned a lot from each other. We worked together to achieve a common goal, even when things on the ice were not always optimal.” Dolan notes that the “the hockey program has for a long time flown under the radar

within the Clark athletic community, but true to our hockey spirit, we are a gritty, tight-knit group, and the bonds between us run deep and true. As hockey alumni, we are all pleased to see that the pool gets refreshed each year with new talent and leadership so that the hockey tradition at Clark can continue.” The evening ended with the traditional players’ dinner in the Winton Dining Room on campus. There was some recapping of the game, but it was outflanked by all the backand-forth about the other things old friends are keen to know about each other. No one was interrupting this conversation. – Jim Keogh

Quest for soccer perfection recalled In the fall of 1998, the Clark University women’s soccer team won its first game of the season and never looked back. With leading scorers Charlene Jankowski Manning ’99 and Katie Brothers Karter ’02 finding the net time and again, Clark swept to an undefeated 17-0-1 regular season before losing to Babson 1-0 in the conference playoffs. The team earned its first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament, losing in the first round to Wellesley, 2-1. Ten players from that memorable season — including Brie Former players and coaches gathered at Clark on Sept. 15 to remember the 1998 season. (L. to r.) Katie Brothers Karter ’02, Chris Darling ’89, Charlene Jankowski Manning ’99, Caitlin Whelton ’99, Sara Payne ’99, Janet DesRoches Smith ’99, Andy Schechter ’90, Natalie Gott Urato ’01, Brienne Smith ’01, Cindi Alfano ’01, Caitlin O’Brine Mancuso ’01, and Massood Abolfazli ’76.

Smith ‘01 (pictured below left), coach of the current Clark women’s team — returned on Sept. 15 for a reunion at the Dolan Field House. They were joined by family, friends, and former coaches to celebrate the anniversary of their accomplishment. “‘Homecoming’ as a phrase may seem overused. But walking onto campus, onto Granger Field, 20 years after leaving it, has no other description — homecoming!” said Janet DesRoches Smith ’99, a captain of the 1998 team. “It was amazing to have an opportunity to rehash a fraction of what I had experienced at Clark with the very people who had experienced it with me. To be able to share that with my family, and have them match faces to names, made it truly memorable. “Congratulations to Coach Smith and the program she is building. She is a huge part of why it felt like home for me.” The Sept. 15 party included a women’s soccer game whose outcome — a 3-1 takedown of WPI — fit the occasion.

Winter 2019



To design drugs to fight many life-threatening diseases, you need to understand the structure and formation of proteins. SHUANGHONG HUO, holder of the Carl Julius and Anna Kranz Carlson Endowed Chair in Chemistry, focuses on diseases caused by amyloids — misfolded proteins that clump together and form small fibers in the body’s organs. Her team develops complex computer simulations to model protein misfolding, bringing us one step closer to understanding and treating Alzheimer’s, genetic heart diseases, and other amyloid disorders.

Endowed professorships help ensure Clark will always rise to meet the tough challenges. Your gift does more than support a great teacher and accomplished researcher — it invests in a better future.

CA M PA I G N CLAR K Now is our time. 58



Deep history, modern relevance

New appointments

In March 1925, amid a continued focus on American prosperity, Clark University President Wallace Atwood launched a new academic journal, Economic

In the fall, Clark announced three key appointees who will help guide the University’s academic and


enrollment efforts:

Now in its 94th year, Economic Geography is the

Meredith Twombly was

Malcolm Pace joined Clark

John Labrie was

longest continuously operating journal in the field of

named Clark’s vice president

as the director of academic

named dean of the School

economic geography in the world. It also has hit a

for admissions and financial aid.

advising. Previously at Wheelock

of Professional Studies and

high note for the digital age, landing its best-ever

She is designing and

College, he develops, interprets,

associate provost for

ratings in a score that measures how often, on

implementing the University’s

and administers academic

professional education.

average, articles in a journal are cited. Web of

overarching strategic vision for

policies, and provides education

He most recently was the

Science, a scientific citation indexing service that

undergraduate admissions, using

to faculty and staff on policies,

founding principal and dean

ranks the prestige of peer-reviewed journals, released

data and analysis to drive

best practices, regulations,

of Northeastern University’s

its 2017 two-year Citation Impact Factor ratings,

decision-making at all stages of

orientation, skills development,

Toronto campus. Among his

showing that the average number of citations of

the recruitment cycle. She most

and academic clearances. Pace

priorities is implementing a

articles from the Clark-based journal had risen from

recently served as dean of

leads the Academic Advising

strategy to supply more teaching

5.3 to 6.4 for the years 2015-2016.

enrollment and retention at


modalities and online options for graduate-level learners.

Hampshire College.

“This places us third out of 84 journals in geography and fourth out of 353 journals in economics,” says Jim Murphy, professor of geography and editor-in-chief of Economic Geography. Murphy is pictured above with managing editor Hilary Laraba.

Assessing climate change

Fatality rates drive research

Christopher A. Williams, associate professor in the Graduate School of Geography and head of

Construction workers face some of the highest rates

the Biogeosciences Research Group, has done

of deaths in the U.S. labor force, and in most years,

extensive research into the impact of forests on slowing climate change. His work found its way into the international science journal Nature, South Africa Today, and Agence-France Presse.



Geoghegan honored

In late November, the U.S. Global Change Research

construction has topped the list of most deadly industries for workers. But why are death rates higher in some states? And what policies and practices might help save workers’ lives? Wayne Gray, professor of economics, is studying

Jacqueline Geoghegan, professor and chair of

those questions as part of a two-year, $300,000 grant

Cycle Report (SOCCR2), published by the White

the Department of Economics, received an

funded by the National Institute for Occupational

House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Agricultural and Resource Economics Review Fellow

Safety and Health through the Center for

Williams co-led the SOCCR2 chapter on

Award from the Northeastern Agricultural and

Construction Research and Training. “We’re looking

Forests with Grant Domke of the U.S. Forest Service.

Resource Economics Association, the most

to see what factors are related to construction

The report was the work of hundreds of scientists

prestigious honor the association grants. She was

fatalities,” says Gray. “If we could figure out why some

and federal agencies and involved more than three

recognized at the association’s June annual meeting

states had high fatality rates, we might be able to

rounds of formal review and revision, including by the

in Philadelphia.

figure out how to get them to look more like the

Program released the Second State of the Carbon

National Academy of Sciences. “One of the most

The award is given annually to authors who have

states with lower fatality rates.”

profound findings that I take from the SOCCR2 report

published five or more peer-reviewed articles in

is just how drastically we humans are altering the

the Agricultural and Resource Economics

two decades of construction fatality data nationwide

carbon cycle, on land, in aquatic systems, and in the

Review. ARER Fellows represent less than 1 percent of

and focusing on state-specific variations in public

coastal oceans,” he said.

the authors who have published in the journal.


The study is the first of its kind, covering more than

Winter 2019


Rose Wine ̕’20 (r.) with Kyle Brunel ’93.

ClarkCONNECT internships link students with opportunities lark students recently made their way in Silicon Valley’s high-tech universe, navigated the commercial real estate world of New York City, and learned the art of design at a San Francisco architectural firm. And they experienced all these things in partnership with Clark alumni. The ClarkCONNECT platform brings together Clark students with alumni who not only share industry expertise and career-preparation advice, but also provide internship and employment opportunities. The connections forged through this powerful networking tool help prepare students for a successful career launch and give alumni access to an expansive talent pool from their alma mater. Here are three stories of ClarkCONNECT at work.

Teodor Nicola-Antoniu ’19

Utkristaa Shrestha ’20


A summer of net gains Clark University seniors Teodor NicolaAntoniu and Clement Nagourney spent their summers interning with the same company, but doing different jobs, 1,200 miles apart. Still, you might say their work was connected — in the cloud. Both students interned at NetApp. The Fortune 500 company simplifies the management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments so organizations can accelerate their digital presence. NicolaAntoniu worked as a data analyst at the company’s Sunnyvale, California, headquarters, and Nagourney was with a networking team in Boulder, Colorado. “My responsibilities included automating a financial model and reducing the calculation time from a month to a day by writing a pipeline in SQL,” says Nicola-Antoniu. SQL, or Structured Query Language, allows a user to access and manipulate databases. Nagourney interned with the Platform Networking team on NetApp HCI’s SolidFire product, a storage system that uses flash media rather than hard disk drives. He continues to work on the product remotely. Both students secured their internships through a “ClarkCONNECTion” — Signe Kurian ’91, whose husband, George Kurian, is CEO of NetApp. Signe Kurian encouraged NetApp to recruit Clark

students for summer internships through ClarkCONNECT. “Clarkies have this great mindset of giving back to the community that they are a part of,” says Nicola-Antoniu. “I am very grateful for Signe’s contribution in this process, and I am determined to help when my turn comes.” Before the internship started, NicolaAntoniu received a welcome email from George Kurian. “It was a special experience to receive a personal message from the CEO of a major tech company in Silicon Valley,” he says. The seniors’ NetApp experiences have helped them refine their post-Clark plans. “I had a great time working at NetApp, and have learned a lot about what it’s like working at a large tech company,” says Nagourney, a computer science and physics double-major. “This experience has solidified my plan to work as a software developer and pursue a master’s degree.” Nicola-Antoniu, a native of Bucharest, Romania, and a double-major in computer science and math, aims to enter the workplace after graduation, though he eventually wants to obtain a graduate degree. “The knowledge I gained, and the skills I acquired while working for NetApp, opened many new opportunities for me. I am confident that I will be able to find the type of job I am looking for after college.” Watch a video about Teodor’s NetApp experience at

An internship with a view Utkristaa Shrestha ’20 remembers the advice her mother once gave her: Don’t buy jewelry — invest in real estate. She spent last summer learning how the professionals do exactly that. Shrestha interned at RXR Realty, which manages $18 billion in commercial real estate properties and investments in New York City and throughout the tri-state area, including a number of landmark buildings. The junior economics major immersed herself in the workings of the company, doing lease analyses, evaluating assets, learning financial modeling, and assisting in the preparation of quarterly investment memos. She talked to construction managers on work sites about RXR’s commitment to maximizing a building’s commercial potential while preserving its historic integrity, and gained insight into how smart investments drive long-term success. “RXR was like an extension of Clark for me,” Shrestha says. “If I didn’t understand a concept, people took the time to explain it to me and helped me understand how it connected to the bigger picture. They made me feel I added value to the company.” Shrestha joined the ClarkCONNECT platform to build relationships with alumni for professional advice and career guidance. The Clark connection was strong at RXR. Scott Rechler ’89 is CEO and chairman, and Jason Barnett ’90, a Clark trustee, is vice chairman and general counsel. Barnett also served as Shrestha’s internship liaison. “My supervisor said Jason had told him, ‘Take care of my Clarkie,’ ” she recalls with a laugh. “It’s so great to meet another Clarkie who is so far along in his career but who also cares about what an intern is experiencing.” Rechler stopped by Shrestha’s cubicle to inquire how she was faring and to swap Clark stories. “He took time out of his busy day not just to introduce himself but also to listen to me and have a conversation,” she says. “Scott and Jason both made me feel welcome, every step of the way.” Shrestha’s interest in commercial real estate extends beyond her mother’s

practical advice. She remembers how the addition of a second train station in her hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut, altered the town’s demographics by attracting young professionals and increased commercial and residential development beyond the downtown area. Her personal experience gave her added motivation to learn how RXR develops properties that are both commercially viable and respectful to local communities. Asked about her career aspirations, Utkristaa Shrestha doesn’t hesitate. “I have very big dreams,” she acknowledges. “At some point, I want to be a CEO of a company.” The experience at RXR, she notes, gave her exposure to a corporate culture where employees are respected and valued, something she seeks for her own professional future.

“ It’s so great to meet another Clarkie who cares about what an intern is experiencing.”

Designing her future Rose Wine ’20 is adept at capturing Clark moments. A professional photographer, she chronicles events and people on campus, producing imagery that tells the story of her university in its many layers and rhythms. She’s also good at seizing moments of her own. Wine, a double-major in English and international development and social change, spent last summer working for Kyle Brunel ’93, the founder and principal architect of Pencil Box Architects in San Francisco. Brunel works with clients on residential and commercial projects throughout the Bay Area. Brunel, a former English major, was back on the Clark campus in the fall of 2017 for

the Global Cultures Conference and had a chance to speak with Clark students in the English Department. “I was impressed with their thoughtfulness, their critical thinking, and their problem-solving capacity,” she says. “I took advantage of an opportunity that made perfect sense, which was to invite a student to come work with me as I work to grow my business and to help them learn about architecture.” Wine appreciated her mentor’s “passion for art and architecture and her eye for design. I got a glimpse into what inspired her vision for Pencil Box Architects.” Once on the job, she immersed herself in many facets of the business, from marketing, to web design, to assisting with project-task management. Wine entered her internship with no experience in architecture but was motivated to learn the profession from various angles. “I was able to experience the design, precision, and form, and I got to see hands-on the synthesis of experience, technology, and art,” she says. “I also learned the business side of things, and what it’s like to work at a small firm. “I gained a valuable relationship with Kyle, who was willing to engage in conversations about my future and talk about potential career paths.” Those paths are still being shaped and influenced by her Clark experiences. With fellow Clark students, Wine has assisted in efforts to rebuild hurricane-damaged Louisiana communities. She has taught English to high school-aged refugees in Worcester through African Community Education, is a leader in the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and works as a resident adviser and as a troubleshooter with Clark’s Information Technology Services Help Desk. “I have so many interests, which are reflected in my jobs, commitments, and hobbies,” she says. “I want to see which ones either continue to set me on fire with passion, or find a way to synthesize those passions.” Watch a video about Rose’s experience at Pencil Box Architects at Learn more about ClarkCONNECT at

Winter 2019


clarkives Professors Robert Beck, Roger Van Tassel, and Henry Warman deliver a historical music number.

Professors’ performances? Primitive. A group of Clark professors mounts the stage in Atwood Hall swathed in caveman costumes and bad wigs. They forage for food, ponder how to make fire, and break into a song with the immortal lyrics: “We don’t like this chip … chip… chop. All our courses are a flop.” Ah, the timeless seduction of theatre. “What Makes Jonas Run” was performed in 1958 to commemorate Founder’s Day, aka the birthday of Jonas Clark — though exactly how the caveman motif accomplished that goal is unclear. Nevertheless, in his cheeky review for The Scarlet, critic James Transue reported an enthusiastic response from the student audience, which was certainly amused, and perhaps astonished, to watch professors go full Neanderthal for students’ viewing pleasure. The satirical skit was written


(or “perpetrated,” as the program notes) by legendary biology professor Rudolph Nunnemacher to be a “horrifying exposé of university life in this country, showing how past policies led to our present predicament, and how this in turn will affect the coming generation.” According to the program, the two-scene play opens in 20,000 B.C. at Old Joe’s College and concludes in the year 2,000 A.D., when Old Joe’s has been transformed into Clark University (the transition was made, of course, in 1887). Plot details are lost to the mists of Clark history. Transue praised the amateur actors, including economics professor Roger Van Tassel, “who showed flashes of his wit, which won him fame in Principles of Economics (which, despite a terrible plot and almost no characterization, seems to last forever).”

Clark athletic director Russ Granger ’38 “showed very good form and completely captivated the female segment of the audience. After the performance, he was besieged by droves of autograph hounds.” The cast featured other faculty and administration luminaries, like Dean of Women Hazel Hughes and professors Robert Beck (philosophy), Seymour Wapner (psychology), and Henry Warman (geography), portraying Clark/ Old Joe’s students, parents, and professors. President Howard Jefferson also made an appearance on stage — presumably not in a leopard pelt. It was all in good fun. Jonas Clark himself might have appreciated the long-lasting gain in students’ morale resulting from the momentary loss of dignity by their teachers.

campus heroes

Jen Plante helps students find the wonder in words


ennifer Plante, M.A. ’00, knows what it means to be a struggling college student with few goals and little guidance. She excelled in science at her Nashua, N.H., high school, but as a first-generation biotechnology student at WPI in the early 1990s, she found herself struggling. “I didn’t seek out help; I didn’t talk to my adviser. I had every intention of dropping out of college after my sophomore year, going back to New Hampshire, getting a job, and becoming an adult,” Plante says. “Then I took an English class. What I found when I took that class was my passion.” Now director of Clark University’s Writing Center and Writing Program, an adviser in the LEEP Center, and an instructor, Plante has a story to tell students who seek her help. It starts at WPI, where she played basketball against the cross-town rival Clark Cougars. Biotechnology fascinated her, and jobs in the field were plentiful, but she wasn’t thrilled by the idea of working in a laboratory. Her English class kept her in college. “I had always loved reading and writing, and I especially loved critically analyzing and talking about books,” she says. The class took her back to childhood, when she pounded out short horror stories on her grandfather’s Royal typewriter. Emulating the gritty, cigarette-smoking scribes of the past, “I would put a pretzel rod in my mouth,” she says. “That was my conception of what a writer was.” After a stint as a technical writer, Plante earned a master’s degree in English at Clark, and fell in love with the English Department. “I felt like I finally fit,” she says.

She began teaching courses for Clark’s Writing Center and the Writing Program, became the Center’s interim director, and in 2007, she was hired full time. Through her various roles, Plante teaches, advises, and mentors up to 75 students a semester, from first-year students sorting out their interests to undergraduates in the Summer and Evening Division. She manages a team of peer advisers in the Writing Center who work with undergraduates to hone their writing. She advises humanities majors interested in gaining real-world career experience through LEEP projects and internships, and serves as an adviser for students’ directed studies and theses. Through it all, she is honest with her students. “I struggle with writing, and I share that with students,” Plante says. “Writing is painful.” She recalls how she failed all her classes the second quarter of her sophomore year at WPI. “When I tell students that, they are very surprised,” she says. “My hope is that they are also somewhat relieved — that this does not define who you are; it’s just a thing that happened, and you learn from it.” At Clark, Plante’s academic interests have focused on those marginalized by society. With a student, she co-taught a course on Queer Theorists of Color for the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. She developed FYI courses on Queer Horror, exploring how monsters are “coded” as queer and tap into society’s anxieties about sexuality and gender.

And in Fiction on the Fringe: Crimes, Addictions, and Psychoses, she examined works like “Lolita” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Her evening course, Serial Killer Fiction, delves into novels and films like “American Psycho,” “Seven,” and “Natural Born Killers.” “What we’re really looking at is the serial killer as the embodiment of Americans’ anxieties at the time,” she explains, “and so by looking at the serial killer, you actually learn more about what was going on in America than you do about anything else.” Plante is now designing a course on superheroes. She is partial to Batman and Batwoman — whom she describes as “canonically LGBTQIA characters” — because “although wealthy, they have no alien powers, and they work hard.” Plante has laid down roots in the Main South neighborhood. Through a Community Development Corporation program for faculty and staff, she bought part of a multi-family home. She walks to work, and she eats at Fantastic Pizza and Annie’s Clark Brunch, where she enjoys seeing her students. For her, “Main South feels like a small town.” She tries to foster similar connections in her students, which she hopes will allow them to find their own paths. “I want my students to have a mentor,” she says. “I want them to come to me and not be as wayward as I was.” – Meredith Woodward King

Winter 2019


final say

‘We have to make some noise.’ Three years ago, Samantha Hughson ’19 launched Clark’s Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to address the issues facing women in the technical professions. Since then, the group has picked up momentum, hosting alumni and faculty speakers, conducting student workshops, and pushing for more diversity training at Clark. In a recent interview with Clark magazine, Hughson, who has accepted a position as a software engineer at TripAdvisor, shared some thoughts on her educational journey and the prospects for women in tech careers.


was the only woman in my high school AP Physics class, and I didn’t always ask questions because I didn’t want to seem less than my male peers. The guy sitting across from me asked if I was intimidated by all the boys, and my physics teacher laughed and said, “You should be intimidated by her.” I realized I felt the need to prove myself more — I still sometimes feel like that. My dad was a software engineer at Microsoft and I practically grew up on the Microsoft campus — we trick-or-treated there when I was a kid. He always wanted to make sure I had exposure to strong women in the field, so every year we had a holiday party at our house where I got to meet these great female role models. We started Clark’s Women in STEM in 2016 to share our experiences. Since then, we’ve had an alumni panel talk about their careers, professors have given talks about their research, and we’ve


held student workshops with the LEEP Center on things like picking internships and doing research. We especially want to be a resource for first-year students. The fact is, computer science is male-dominated — it’s hard when you’ve got 10 female and 25 male students in a class. I know this is going be my future. I remember texting with my dad after the first day of my internship at Amazon, and telling him how angry I was to be surrounded by all men. He told me that’s just how it is. I said, “I don’t care, I’m going to stay angry,” because that’s the only way we’re going to make a change. All the speakers we’ve had at Clark’s Women in STEM events told us: Don’t give up and don’t be silenced. The only way we can really create change is in partnership with the people running the industry — most of them men. We have to make some noise so they know there is actually an issue and it’s in their world. I attended the Grace Hopper Conference last year, and it was great to be among so many strong tech influencers who are women. When we talk about computer science, we need to talk about pioneers like Grace Hopper and Ada Lovelace — it can’t just be about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, because that’s not inclusive of all the people who work in tech. Of course, the boards of tech companies are almost all men, so it’s not just about getting women into STEM professions. It’s about getting them a seat at the table.


“This scholarship has changed the trajectory of my life.” NATALIA WARBURTON ’22 is clear about her career aspiration: She wants to become a college dean specializing in the education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Natalia has undertaken a self-designed major in American Sign Language and mapped a strategy to attain her goal. Thankfully, a significant roadblock on her academic journey has been lifted. Natalia, a first-generation college student, is the recipient of the Kenneth O. Nelson ’47 and Janet C. Nelson Scholarship, which gives her access to a Clark education that otherwise would have been out of financial reach.

Your gift helps fund scholarships for deserving students like Natalia. This remains one of our greatest priorities, because limited means should never mean a limited future.

CAMPAIGN CLARK Now is our time.


Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage Paid Worcester, MA Permit No.1886

University Advancement 950 Main Street Worcester MA 01610-1477

Visit to see schedules and hotel discounts 5 0 8 -7 9 8 - 4 3 6 4


It’s a Great Weekend to be a Clarkie!


alu m ni@ c lar

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.