Clark University President David Angel stood before the audience who had come together to celebrate the official opening of the Alumni and Student Engagement Center and helpfully offered his own headline for the event: “Reaching outward. Reaching upward.”
Over the past year, the Clark community has watched a skeleton of interlocking girders evolve into the newest addition to the 129-year-old campus, an essential component of the University’s mission to transform liberal education and a cornerstone for the Main South neighborhood.
At Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, President Angel said the building is the culmination of a 30-year process that, symbolically and physically, signals Clark’s commitment “to reach beyond the classroom, beyond the campus, beyond the neighborhood, and out into the country and the world.”
Located across Main Street just across from the Clark gate, the four-story, 36,000-square-foot building now stands ready to welcome students who will arrive on campus at the end of the month. It will be the locus for Clark’s bold model for undergraduate education, LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice), and a place that will bring together students with alumni, faculty and outside partners for career mentoring in a variety of fields, including bioscience, health, creative arts, economics and finance, law and regulatory affairs and psychology.
President Angel said the University wants to engage alumni, parents, and supporters of the University to provide opportunities that will allow students to put their education to work in the world. These collaborations will be critical in connecting Clark students to world and work experiences through internships, mentorships and job opportunities, while also giving alumni the opportunity to share advice and industry-specific knowledge to better prepare students for launch into their post-college lives and careers.
“A new building makes a statement,” said Clark Trustee Richard Freeland. “It energizes the whole community and inspires us to raise the level of our game to the level of vision it represents.”
Also offering remarks at Thursday’s event were Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and Mark Fuller, representing the George and Sybil Fuller Foundation, a major benefactor of the center and of other Clark initiatives over the years. The University’s “deep and profound” partnership with Worcester and commitment to the neighborhood was a recurring theme. “Clark rises as our city and our neighborhood rises,” President Angel said.
Jeffrey Gillooly, vice president for advancement, noted the many gifts that brought the Alumni and Student Engagement Center to fruition.
“A project of this magnitude, one with such a positive impact on Clark’s educational mission, is not possible without the generosity of our donors,” he said. “We can’t thank them enough for their commitment to Clark.”
Here are four takeaways about the Alumni and Student Engagement Center:
- The LEEP Center has migrated from Dana Commons to the new building. The move will allow for a concentrated, centralized campus presence for the LEEP Center’s offices, which include Academic Advising, Study Abroad, Community Engagement, Career Services and the Writing Center.
- The Alumni and Student Engagement Center boasts a full roof solar array that supplies up to 50 percent of the building’s energy needs. An application will be made to the U.S. Green Building Council that the building be considered for LEED Platinum or Gold certification.
- The building is a key element of revitalization efforts in the Main South neighborhood, strengthening the partnership between Clark and the city and helping fashion a gateway that will have visitors regarding Worcester with fresh eyes. The building coincides with $1.5 million in improvements to nearby University Park, partly funded by Clark’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes to the city, and $2 million in federally funded enhancements along Main Street — from Hawthorne Street to Beaver Street —scheduled to begin next spring.
- Members of the Clark alumni community now have dedicated space for meetings and events, a statement about the University’s commitment to its alumni and appreciation for their support and leadership, Angel said. In a 2014 CLARK magazine story describing the building plans, former Alumni Association president Larry Hershoff ’71 said the center “is a signal from the administration that it recognizes the critical importance of alumni to LEEP and to Clark as a whole.”
Departments and offices located in the Alumni and Student Engagement Center are: LEEP Center (includes Academic Advising, Study Abroad, Community Engagement, Career Services, Writing Center); Dean of the College (includes dean, senior associate dean, associate dean for student academic success); Dean of Students; Registrar; Student Accounts and Cashier’s Office; Student Financial Assistance (Financial Aid); Business Manager and OneCard Office; Human Resources; General Accounting; Accounts Payable; and Payroll.
Top (from left): Trustee John O’Brien, Trustee Elyse Darefsky ’78, Trustee Kevin Cherry ‘81, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, Clark President David Angel, Trustee Cynthia Michael-Wolpert '90, Trustee Richard Freeland, and Mark Fuller cut the ribbon on the new Alumni and Student Engagement Center.