Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Welcome to the 2021-22 academic year! It is wonderful to have everyone back together again and to see the campus teeming with activity. To our class of 2025, graduate students, and others who are joining us for the first time, we are thrilled you are here. Welcome to the Clark community.
I have no doubt that this is going to be a productive and exciting year. I hope it affords each and every one of you the opportunity to explore, to discover, to learn, and to contribute to life on our campus.
Our incoming first-year class represents 35 US states and 32 countries worldwide; 7% of the class are international students and 31 students are citizens of more than one country; 27% of US students identify as BIPOC; 14% of incoming students represent the first generation in their family to attend a 4-year college; 16 students graduated from Worcester public high schools. Their breadth of perspective and experience will add tremendously to our community.
I regret that we must begin the semester once again facing uncertainty around the COVID-19 virus. While this has affected some of our plans for the fall, we continue to work toward a semester that is as close to normal as possible. We are close to a 95% vaccination rate community-wide. This has made a critical difference. Because of your commitment, classes are fully in-person. Research labs are back at work. Athletics is back in the game. The dining halls are open. However, we still face risk and staying safe and healthy will require continued diligence. You can learn more about the steps we are taking, as well as what we are asking of each of you, here. As trends change locally, regionally, and nationally, and as risk levels increase or decrease, we will adapt.
So, yes, we are going to start off the fall semester a little differently than we had hoped. But, also with great promise and potential, and on course for an impactful year. A few of the highlights to look forward to:
We are heavily engaged in developing a strategic framework for the future of the University. Many of you already have participated in the process which began last spring. There will be further opportunities this year. Together, we are setting a course to ensure that Clark is the vibrant, competitive, ascendant institution we all know it can be. Your involvement and input in setting the compass that will help guide decision-making and planning on a wide range of initiatives and investments in the coming year is critical.
There is energy and excitement around our inaugural year with the Becker School of Design & Technology (BSDT) at Clark. I am thrilled that 191 students are enrolled in BSDT programs, most coming to Clark after beginning their studies at Becker College and we have an outstanding team of faculty who are nationally recognized in their fields. Establishment of the school has made Clark a top destination for interactive media, game development, and design, and fine arts and has opened up limitless opportunities for interdisciplinary efforts. I strongly encourage you to take maximum advantage of all that the Becker School offers for our students and faculty.
You cannot help but notice the activity at our main entrance. Enhancing our “front door” by restoring much of its original fabric and design is just one of many projects underway to improve our campus and facilities. The Michelsen Theater at the Little Center is under significant renovation and will be transformed into a beautiful new performance space, with a new stage, seating, lighting, AV, and lobby. It will be open for shows next academic year. And we are beginning to introduce new signage and landscape improvements on the campus.
We have incredibly important work to do to continue to promote and cultivate a climate of inclusion. An environment where differences of perspective are celebrated; where we are driven even more intensively by intellectual curiosity and are open to learning through each other’s life experiences. We all want Clark to be a place where bold ideas and creative solutions are discovered. Our impact in the world depends upon it. To realize that potential we must also be a place where we can debate and disagree and challenge one another civilly. We can and will make further progress this year.
So, it is with great anticipation we embark on our fall semester. I remain confident that here at Clark we are moving in a positive direction with great things to come. Ours is a future full of possibility.
David Fithian ’87