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Comments from Colleagues

Read Comments from David Fithian’s Colleagues

Colleagues reflect on some of the qualities that our next president brings to Clark.

Andrew Alper“David possesses a rare combination of intellect, judgment, and integrity wrapped in an empathetic and warm personality. I benefitted greatly from his wise counsel and friendship during my tenure as board chair. Clark University is lucky to welcome David back as its tenth president.”

Andrew Alper
Chairman, Alper Investments, Inc.
Trustee, The University of Chicago

Wendy Freedman“For over a decade David Fithian has provided his superb leadership skills at the University of Chicago. His portfolio as Executive Vice President is so broad that it almost defies description, and spans the arts through the sciences, including the coordination of numerous major new initiatives. He brings with him to Clark University a wealth of experience, accomplishments, and, moreover, an enthusiasm that is infectious. He will be missed!”

Wendy L. Freedman
John and Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics
The University of Chicago

Mary Lou Gorno“David is a man of intelligence, integrity, and thoughtful leadership. He has brought distinction to himself and to UChicago with his tireless search for excellence, his vision, and his innovative ideas. He leaves an indelible mark not only for what he has done but for who he is.”

Mary Lou Gorno
Managing Director, Ingenuity International, LLC
Vice Chair, University of Chicago Board of Trustees

David Greene“In David Fithian, Clark University has a president of deep integrity and moral courage. He leads with principles and values, beginning with his unwavering commitment to the scholarly liberal arts and inclusive excellence. At Harvard and the University of Chicago, his work strengthened the environment for faculty to undertake their very best work and for all students to benefit from the rich educational experiences inside and outside the classroom. He is a patient listener and synthesizer of ideas and a tireless worker who delivers time and again. Few leaders understand the role and obligation of the university to the broader community in ways that David has demonstrated. His coming home to Clark is a moment for true celebration. Universities thrive with the right leadership for the time, and David is ideally positioned to build on Clark’s exceptional history and to write a new chapter that elevates its distinctive culture and standing in the global world of higher education.”

David A. Greene
President, Colby College

Robert Iuliano“Clark has made a wonderful decision in asking David Fithian to serve as its next president. As an alumnus, he knows the university; through his extensive experience at Chicago and Harvard, he knows higher education in ways matched by few others. He will be an inspiring presence at Clark, leading with integrity, and with a steady focus on the institution’s future and its most fundamental values.”

Robert W. Iuliano
President, Gettysburg College

Walter Massey“It is a rare honor, privilege and joy to return to one’s alma mater as president. I was fortunate enough to do it at my alma mater, Morehouse College, and it is wonderful to witness my good friend and colleague David Fithian return to Clark University as its president. It is a perfect fit.

I have had the genuine pleasure of working with David for more than a decade at the University of Chicago, watching him take on numerous and ever-increasing responsibilities along the way. David has experienced almost every aspect of this university, which has prepared him well to assume the presidency of Clark.

 I know that the entire Clark community — trustees, faculty, students, staff, and alumni — will love David’s warmth, sense of humor, openness, and collegiality.

These are challenging times for all institutions of higher education, but, with David at the helm, Clark will be well-prepared to meet these challenges, to build on its distinguished past and to have a glorious future.

Walter Massey
President Emeritus, Morehouse College
President Emeritus, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Trustee Emeritus, The University of Chicago


John McCarter“Clark has found an extraordinary leader. I have worked with and watched David in multiple settings dealing with complex challenges. Our work together at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole has shown his ability to recruit and mentor others as well as learn new realms of knowledge. His support of President Zimmer extends across all parts of the University of Chicago. And, his election at Clark represents a real homecoming.”

John McCarter
Former President, The Field Museum
Former Chair, The Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents
Trustee, Marine Biological Laboratory of the University of Chicago

Judith Palfrey“As the resident dean of Adams House at Harvard College, David Fithian stood out among his peers as an extraordinarily wise and kind counselor of college-aged students. He believed deeply that all student encounters should be an opportunity for them to learn more about themselves and to grow. He had a knack for working through the most difficult situations, leaving the students stronger and more in tune with the college and with themselves. As his successors have entered the role, we have always held David up as the role model we hoped they would aspire to follow. He left enduring lessons that have made that possible. Clark students are fortunate to have such a champion of residential college life as their next president.”

Judith Palfrey
T. Berry Brazelton Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School
Faculty Dean, Adams House, Harvard College

John Rogers“David Fithian is an extraordinary leader who, in approaching the most complex challenges, always brings thoughtful and thorough analysis to find creative solutions. As Vice Chair of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees, I worked closely with David for over ten years on a wide range of key issues facing the University. I saw David’s hard work have a direct impact on initiatives related to good governance and diversity and inclusion. Clark University is fortunate to have David’s leadership for its next chapter.”

John W. Rogers, Jr.
Chairman and CEO, Ariel Investments, LLC.
Vice Chair, University of Chicago Board of Trustees

David Rubenstein“I have spent a fair amount of time over the past two decades serving on university boards of trustees. As a result, I have seen and worked with many talented university administrators. But none of them exceeds the extraordinary capabilities of David Fithian. I cannot say enough about his wide-ranging experience, ability to get things done, and his quite considerable intellect. He has been an immeasurable resource for Bob Zimmer and for all of those who work at or support the University of Chicago. I am very sorry to see him leave Chicago, but pleased that his alma mater has recognized David’s talents and experience. Clark University could not have made a better choice for its new President.”


David M. Rubenstein
Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman, The Carlyle Group
Fellow, The Harvard Corporation

Trustee, The University of Chicago

Allison Simmons“In David Fithian, Clark has found a leader well-versed in curricular and pedagogical matters as well as faculty governance. His work with me and our faculty colleagues in reviewing the General Education program at Harvard, among other work together, revealed him to be an especially careful listener and a natural problem-solver who has deep respect for both the academic mission of the university and for the many people who carry it out. For years since his departure from Harvard, I still find myself turning to David for advice on all manner of higher education topics, big and small. Clark will be in excellent hands.”

Alison Simmons
Samuel H. Wolcott Professor of Philosophy and Harvard College Professor, Harvard University