Dear Members of the Clark Community:
The driving force behind the strategic planning work in which we have been engaged for nearly a year is a strongly felt and widely shared sentiment that this is a critical time to invest in Clark University. The acquisition of land on Park Avenue, announced on Monday, is one type of investment in our future; establishing the Becker School of Design & Technology at Clark, announced last spring, is another. The $1 million commitment I made in 2020 to support DEI initiatives is yet another. Additional investments in academic and research excellence and in the campus experience are actively being discussed among faculty, staff, and students, along with alumni leaders.
Today, I am writing to let you know that Clark is working to secure $100 million in capital markets financing, which will enable us to make essential capital improvements to our University, as well as refinance $56 million in debt. A portion of these bonds will be issued with a Green Designation, which means that Clark is committing to meet the rigorous environmental standards set by the Climate Bonds Initiative. This financing initiative will help us invest in facility upgrades and other capital projects, which will both enhance the overall experience at Clark and position us to be even more competitive in the future.
I also am pleased to announce that one of the first significant investments we plan to make will be in a new interdisciplinary academic building. This facility will strategically bring together elements of computer science, visual and performing arts, and interactive media arts and game design. In addition to offering new collaborative and classroom space to benefit the entire University, the building will be home to the Department of Computer Science, the Becker School of Design & Technology, and certain programs within the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. The intersection of these areas creates new opportunities for synergy in teaching, research, and innovation and advances new forms of pedagogy. This building will be sited east of the Strassler Center, between Hawthorne and Woodland streets, and contribute to the development of a new quadrangle in this area.
Our plans were affirmed today when we received a report from Moody’s — one of the nation’s most highly respected credit rating agencies — indicating that Clark University’s financial status and long-term financial outlook are strong. The Moody’s report speaks to Clark’s resilience and long-term prospects for success, and signals to investors and lenders that they can have confidence in Clark and that Clark is worthy of their investment. Moody’s did adjust our credit rating from A1 to A2 while maintaining our stable outlook — a modest downgrade that keeps us in the same category. The adjustment reflects the assumption of additional debt and the need for new investment in our physical plant. The report from Moody’s will allow us to raise funding at favorable interest rates. Moody’s cited several factors supporting its analysis, including Clark’s strong brand and strategic positioning, diverse program mix, and research focus; solid fiscal management and financial policies; and ability to manage well through a competitive landscape.
While we know that fulfillment of our overall strategic plan will require even greater resources — including new funds raised through the generous philanthropy of our alumni and friends — the financing intiative I am announcing today is a substantial step forward that takes advantage of highly favorable market conditions and Clark’s strong financial position. In pursuing a bold program of significant new investments in Clark, we steadfastly believe that our institution is a special place, that we are all a part of something worthwhile and important, and that the world needs Clark. These beliefs — that Clark matters to the world, that our faculty will discover new knowledge and deepen understanding of what we already know for the benefit of all, that our students will find a Clark education rigorous and empowering and use it to change the world, and that our staff are admirably and unselfishly devoted to making everything we do successful — compel us to invest in our remarkable and distinctive institution.
I am extremely proud of the ambitious path we are pursuing for Clark and the clear momentum already underway. I look forward to sharing more exciting news moving forward.
David Fithian ’87