Clark University

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For the university in Atlanta, Georgia, see Clark Atlanta University. For the university in Dubuque, Iowa, see Clarke University.
Clark University
Logo of Clark University.png
Motto Challenge Convention, Change our World (current) Fiat Lux (former)
Motto in English Challenge Convention, Change our World (current) Let There be Light (former)
Established 1887
Type Private
Endowment U.S. $355million[1]
President David Angel
Admin. staff 186 (faculty)[2]
Undergraduates 2,277[3]
Postgraduates 1,100[3]
Location Worcester, MA, US
Campus Urban
Athletics Division III
17 varsity teams
Colors Scarlet      and white     
Nickname Cougars
Mascot Cougar

Clark University is an American private university and liberal arts college in Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest educational institution founded as an all-graduate university. Clark now also educates undergraduates. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Clark 75th nationally in 2014, 83rd in 2013, and 95th in 2012. In 2013, Forbes ranked Clark University #51 in research.

It is one of only three New England universities, along with Harvard and Yale, to be a founding member of the Association of American Universities, an organization of universities with the most prestigious profiles in research and graduate education. Clark withdrew its membership in 1999, citing a conflict with its mission; it is one of only four schools to do so.[4]

Clark is one of 40 schools profiled in the book Colleges That Change Lives by Loren Pope. Those who attend Clark University are colloquially called "Clarkies".


Clark University was founded by American businessman Jonas Gilman Clark in 1887. He started the university with a million dollars, and later added another million dollars to the fund because he feared the university might someday face a lack of funds. It was opened on October 2, 1889 as the first all-graduate university in the United States.[5]

Front entrance to Clark University's Jonas Clark Hall, the main academic facility for undergraduate students.

G. Stanley Hall was the first president of the university. He was the founder of the American Psychological Association and earned the first Ph.D. in psychology in the United States at Harvard. Clark has played a prominent role in the development of psychology as a distinguished discipline in the United States ever since. It was the location for Sigmund Freud's famous "Clark Lectures" in 1909, introducing psychoanalysis to the U.S. This was Freud's only set of lectures in the United States. Clark celebrated the centennial of the visit in October 2009.[6] A seated sculpture of Freud by Robert Shure is just outside the University Center; students pose with it and dress it up for various holiday's and university occasions such as graduation.[7]

Franz Boas, founder of American cultural anthropology and adviser for the first Ph.D. in anthropology, taught at Clark between 1888 and 1892 before resigning (in a dispute with Hall over academic freedom) and moving to Columbia University. Albert Abraham Michelson, the first American to receive a Nobel Prize in Physics, best known for his involvement in the Michelson-Morley experiment, which measured the speed of light, served as a professor from 1889 to 1892. In the 1920s Robert Goddard, a pioneer of rocketry, considered one of the founders of space and missile technology, served as chairman of the Physics Department. The Robert H. Goddard Library, a distinctive modern building in the brutalist architecture style by architect John M. Johansen was completed in 1969.[8]

In April 2010, Clark University received the largest gift in its 123-year history, a $14.2 million offering from the late head of a company that ultimately grew into one of the nation's biggest property and casualty insurers, the Hanover Insurance Company. The gift from John Adam is intended to strengthen Clark's graduate programs in education, promote college-readiness among minority students and bolster its research profile related to urban education. This donation created the Adams Education Fund, which will enhance Clarks nationally recognized model for urban secondary education and reform, teacher-training and community education partnerships.[9]

On July 1, 2010, former provost David Angel became the ninth president of Clark succeeding John Bassett, who went on to be president of Heritage University located on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Toppenish, Washington.


The campus is located on Main Street in the Main South neighborhood about two miles[10] west of downtown Worcester, about 40 miles west of Boston, Massachusetts. The campus is small, with most of the main buildings fitting in a single city block.[11]

The Traina Center for the Arts is located in the former Downing Street School.

Jonas Clark Hall, which was built in 1887 is in the center of campus and houses the economics, psychology and education departments. Located in the basement of Jonas Clark Hall is the university's cogeneration plant which allows the university to recycle waste heat from electrical generation into hot water, heat, and steam. It was updated in 2013 to a more efficient 2.0 kWh natural gas engine.[12]

The Lasry Center (named for investor Marc Lasry and his wife Cathy) for Bioscience houses the biology department. It received a LEED Gold certification for its energy efficiency.

The Jefferson Academic Center houses various social science departments including Women's Studies, Geography, History, and Geographical Information Sciences.

Group photo 1909 in front of Clark University. Front row: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung; back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi.

Atwood Hall, attached to the Jefferson Academic Center, is the main theater on campus which seats 658.[13] Atwood Hall was originally the chapel for the University.

The Little Center is the alternate performing arts venue, with its largest room, the Michelson Theater seating 120.[14]

The Academic Commons, also known as the AC, acts as a study area and lounge for the students, and incorporates a Sodexo coffeehouse named Jazzmans, a quiet study area, a computer room, and the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprises.

The Goddard Library houses more than 375,000 volumes, and is upstairs from the Academic Commons.[15]

The Kneller Athletic Center houses the basketball courts, swimming pool, raquet ball courts, handball courts, and the Bickman Fitness Center which was completely renovated in 2013. Major campus events, such as International Gala, the fall concert, and first year orientation are usually held in the Kneller as the basketball courts are the largest singular room on campus and can fit the entire student body.

Estabrook Hall, located on Woodland Street, is the second oldest building on Clark's campus. It was originally constructed as dormitories, it now functions as the language center and the Music center. The top three floors are dedicated to languages including Spanish, French, Latin, and Hebrew, while the bottom floor and basement are practice rooms and music halls.

The center of campus is known as "The Green". The Green is a hub for student activity, and is where during the warm months most Clarkies spend their time. It is the location of Spree Day, the welcome back BBQ, several clubs' events and graduation. The buildings surrounding The Green include Atwood Hall, Jefferson Academic Center, Higgins University Center, Jonas Clark Hall, and the Goddard Library.

Administrative offices are housed in small buildings on Woodland Street, and the President's house is also located in this area.

Students entering Clark must live on campus for the first two years unless their primary address is within 25 miles of campus. The residence halls at Clark are organized by those who live there. The halls include the following breakdowns:

  • First Year Experience halls (Johnson-Sanford Center, Bullock and Wright)
  • Mixed Class halls (Dana and Hughes)
  • Single Sex hall (Dodd—female only)
  • Suite-style and Apartment-style halls (Maywood and Blackstone)

Clark owns apartments that, while outside of the main campus area, exclusively house Clark students.

The first Clark "residence halls" (Wright and Bullock) opened in 1959. Before that time Estabrook Hall was the men's dormitory and small women's dorms stood in the current location of Little Center and Bullock Hall. Blackstone, the newest of the halls, opened in 2007.[16][17]

As of fall 2007, gender blind/neutral housing is an option at Clark, meaning that students of different genders can room together.[18]

Clark University released its Climate Action Plan on December 15, 2009 detailing strategies for the University to reduce its carbon footprint while strengthening many of its existing sustainability practices. The plan sets two goals with respect to climate neutrality: First is an interim goal of reducing emissions to 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2015. The second goal is to achieve climate neutrality (net zero greenhouse gas emissions) by the year 2030.[19]


Clark offers 31 undergraduate majors.[20] It offers 33 study abroad programs in 21 different countries. Clark has 187 full-time faculty, representing a 10:1 student-faculty ratio. Ninety-six percent of Clark's faculty have terminal degrees.[20]

In recent years, Clark has been noted especially for its geography and psychology departments, with the latter having a distinctive, if increasingly unfashionable "humanistic" orientation (humanistic psychology). The School of Geography was founded by then President Wallace Atwood in 1921, and is the first institution in the United States established for graduate study in this science. It has granted more doctoral degrees than any other geography program in the country. The geography department is best known for its strength in human-environment geography and for the development of the IDRISI geographic information systems software, named for the famous 12th century explorer and cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi by Prof. Ron Eastman. It was ranked #1 for undergraduate geography by Rugg's Recommendations on Colleges and has consistently been ranked in the top 10 in the nation by other publications. The geography department also offers a graduate-level degree in GIS as part of the Fifth-Year Free program. The department's mission is ambitious: "to educate undergraduate and graduate students to be imaginative and contributing citizens of the world, and to advance the frontiers of knowledge and understanding through rigorous scholarship and creative effort."

In recent years, Clark has received widespread media coverage for its "Fifth-Year Free" program. Under Clark's BA/MA program with the fifth year free, undergraduates who maintain a B+ average are eligible for tuition-free enrollment in its one-year graduate programs, meaning that they can get a Master of Arts degree for the price of a bachelor's degree. Students apply to master's degree programs in their junior year, begin meeting requirements in their senior year and typically complete those requirements in the fifth year. Bachelor's degrees are granted en route to the master's degree.[21] This program received scrutiny from the entering class of 2013 for not being fully "free" by instilling fees of up to $2000 on students.[citation needed]

According to Clark University, "Of those responding, 88% of the class of 2011 had a job or were in graduate school within six months of graduation."

Student body[edit]

The undergraduate student body has a 42:58 male to female gender ratio, with 68% percent from out-of-state. This includes international students, which comprise 12% of the student body.

As of 2013, Clark's freshman class consisted of 621 students with an average high school GPA of 3.58, average Verbal SAT of 614 and average Math SAT of 603. Seventy-nine percent of the freshmen were from top 30% of their high school class. Ninety-eight percent of freshmen live in campus housing. Of the freshmen, 64% are from outside Massachusetts and 85% receive need- or merit-based financial aid. There were also 27 transfer students.[20]

The student body produces a weekly newspaper called The Scarlet[22] which covers campus news, living arts, student opinions, and sports.

Spree Day[edit]

Spree Day is one of the most beloved Clark events, and the worst kept secret on campus. Spree Day originated in 1903 to coincide with St. Patrick's Day.[23] The University used to use Spree Day as a day off from classes with University sponsored drinking and general debauchery. Now, Spree Day occurs on a "secret" day, usually the second Tuesday in April. The University cancels classes, ropes off The Green, brings in inflatables, bands, fair food, and allows the student body to relax in the warming New England weather. It is traditional to not tell first-year students about Spree Day, instead, the Senior class wakes up the first-years by running through their dorms while banging pots and pans.

Many Clarkies, uninterested in the events the University puts on, usually throw large, rowdy house parties and use the day off to drink excessively. This led the University's director of Leadership and Programming Mike McKenna to attempt to scrap Spree Day in early 2013 for the more tame and wildly unpopular "FreudFest". FreudFest would have consolidated International Gala, Spree Day, and the Spring comedy act into one Thursday-Sunday in April, with no days off from classes.[24] Within hours of the announcement that Spree Day would be no more, there was a massive campaign to "Free Spree" and save Spree Day activities. With a massive social media campaign, email writing campaign, sit ins at the Student Leadership and Programming office, and a veto for funds by Student Council President, Andrew Schuschu, Spree Day was saved within a week, and festivities went off as usual in April. This did lead to a Spree Day committee being formed to reform Spree Day to a tamer, and less embarrassing holiday for the University.

While Spree Day is a day of fun and relaxation, Clark University also holds the Academic Spree Day in the Spring semester. This event has an academic nature and is the day when Clark undergraduates present their research and creative work annually [25]

Clark and the community[edit]

In 1985, the university engaged in a partnership with community groups and business organizations to revitalize Clark neighborhoods. Its efforts in the University Park Partnership program include refurbishing dilapidated or abandoned homes, reselling them to area residents, and subsidizing mortgages for new home buyers.

In 1997, Clark opened a secondary public school, the University Park Campus School (UPCS), that is also a professional development school for Clark’s teacher education program. Because of its long hours and demanding curricula, UPCS has been lauded as a model for collaboration between a university and an urban district. Students are able to attend Clark University free of charge upon graduation, provided they meet certain residency and admissions requirements. In the May 16, 2005, issue of Newsweek, UPCS was named the 68th best high school in the nation. On November 22, 2007, UPCS was featured in a cover story entitled “Town-grown triumph In poorest part of Worcester, Clark helps put children on path to college” in the Boston Globe, by Peter Schworm, Globe Staff.[26]

The UPCS collaborative is one of several sponsored by Clark's Jacob Hiatt Center for Urban Education focused on urban teacher education and school reform.


Clark teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Cougars are a member of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, swimming & diving and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, field hockey, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis and volleyball.


Clark has eight research institutes and centers.

The William and Jane Mosakowski Institute[27] for Public Enterprise seeks to improve through the successful mobilization of use-inspired research the effectiveness of government and other institutions in addressing social concerns. The institute focuses on important social issues, including focal areas such as education reform, environmental sustainability, access to healthcare, human development, well-being and global change.

The George Perkins Marsh Institute[28] conducts collaborative, interdisciplinary research on human-environment relationships and the human dimensions of global environmental change.

The Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies[29] an interdiscplinary center which focuses on the causes and effects of Holocausts and Genocides around the world. It is housed in Lasry House, donated by investor Marc Lasry and his wife Cathy in honor of their fathers Irwin Cohen and Moise Lasry

The Jacob Hiatt Center for Urban Education[30] develops models of urban schooling, teaching and teacher education through local partnership, in order to learn from these models and expand the knowledge-base of effective practice through research.

The Center for Risk and Security (CRS)[31] at the George Perkins Marsh Institute conducts in-depth studies of homeland security issues using a risk-analysis perspective. The Center's broad range of security issues includes: terrorism; disaster management; law and human rights; resource availability; and public health.

The Center for Technology, Environment and Development (CENTED),[32] founded in 1987, is a center for the study of natural and technological hazards in the United States. Projects include theoretical work on hazard analysis, hazard taxonomies, vulnerability, environmental equity, corporate risk management, emergency planning and hazardous waste transportation.

The Center for Community-Based Development (CCBD)[33] is the research arm of the IDCE Program. CCBD works with host country colleagues and institutions to help local communities increase productivity and conserve natural resources. CCBD disseminates its approach and research through publications and training courses, both at Clark and overseas.

Clark Labs is engaged in the research and development on geospatial technologies including the development of computer software and analytical techniques for GIS and remote sensing with an emphasis on monitoring and modeling earth system dynamics. Clark Labs continues to develop and distribute IDRISI, a geographic information system (GIS) software package that is in use at more than 40,000 sites in over 180 countries worldwide. It is run by Dr. J. Ronald Eastman, creator of IDRISI.

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]

Recent developments[edit]

In March 2009, Clark University convened a first-of-its-kind National Conference on Liberal Education and Effective Practice, co-sponsored by Clark’s Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise and the Association of American Colleges and Universities.[34]

The Mosakowsi Institute for Public Enterprise was established in the fall of 2007 thanks to a generous founding gift from two Clark alumni, William '76 and Jane '75 Mosakowski.[35]

Secretary of State and former senator and democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at Clark University on February 4, 2008 to an audience of approximately 3,500 in The Kneller Athletic Center.[36]

In April 2009, then-President John Bassett denied Clark University Students for Palestinian Rights, a student group, to bring Norman Finkelstein to speak about the "Gaza Massacre" (2008-2009 Gaza War) because Finkelstein "would invite controversy and not dialogue or understanding". He also cited a conflict in scheduling regarding a conference on Holocaust and Genocide Studies put on by the university in the same month.[37] However, following protests, which included a public protest in the center of campus, a petition campaign and outreach by alumni, students and faculty, Basset reversed his decision and allowed Finkelstein to speak on April 27, the last day of classes for the semester. Finkelstein spoke to around 400 students, faculty and community members in Atwood Hall.[38]

Clark University worked extensively on renovations. In the summer of 2010, dormitories were renovated, which include Bullock and Wright Hall.

Noam Chomsky spoke at Clark University on the topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Arab Spring on April 12, 2011 in Atwood Hall.[39] The visit was unprecedented not only for Chomsky's notoriety, but also because this was the first ever lecture given on a Spree Day at Clark.

In the summer of 2012, Clark University underwent more renovations. Downing Street was closed to unite the campus. The street was covered with grass and cement pathways. Johnson and Sanford halls were united to become the Johnson Sanford center. The Johnson Sanford Center featured new social, study, and multimedia spaces. An outdoor roof terrance was added in addition to an elevator to all levels. The University has recently began a project called LEEP to connect students and the world of academia to practical experience [1].

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Fast Facts". Clark University. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  3. ^ a b Himmelberger, Jeff. Fall 2010 report on Enrollments. Worcester: Clark University, 2010. p.1.
  4. ^ Paul Fain, As AAU Admits Georgia Tech to Its Exclusive Club, Other Universities Await the Call, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 21, 2010, Accessed May 31, 2010.
  5. ^ Koelsch, William A. Clark University, 1887–1987: A Narrative History. Worcester: Clark University Press, 1987. pp. 23-24. ISBN 0-914206-25-7. OCLC 17064546
  6. ^ Sheehan, Nancy. "Echoes of a legacy." Worcester Telegram & Gazette, October 1, 2009. pp. A1, A12.
  7. ^
  8. ^ “College Building Of The Month.” College and University Business. November 1969. McGraw-Hill Inc. 1969.
  9. ^ "Adams Education Fund". Clark University. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  10. ^ "Campus Map". Clark University. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  11. ^ "Campus Map PDF". Clark University. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  12. ^ "Energy Use and Campus Sustainability". Clark University. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  13. ^ "Auditoriums at Clark". Clark University. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  14. ^ "Visual and Performing Arts". Clark University. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  15. ^ "Academic Commons at Goddard Library". Clark University. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  16. ^ Clark University Bulletin General Catalogues. 1959-60. Clark University. 1959. p. 33.
  17. ^ Reis, Jacqueline. “College students back; 30,000 will transform city and campuses.” Worcester Telegram & Gazette. August 27, 2007. p.A1.
  18. ^ Sacks, Pamela H. “Dorms to go `gender-blind'; Clark men, women can room together.” Worcester Telegram & Gazette. December 12, 2006. Page A1.
  19. ^ Nicodemus, Aaron. “Clark plans a green future.” Worcester Telegram & Gazette. December 16, 2009. (Retrieved September 22, 2010)
  20. ^ a b c "Fast Facts". Clark University. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  21. ^ Griffin-Kumpey, Tammy. Ed. Clark University Academic Catalog 2008-2009. “Accelerated B.A./Master’s Degree Programs.” Clark University Communications Office. Worcester, MA. 2008. p. 5.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "About Clark". Clark University. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  24. ^ "Spree Day Doomed?". The Scarlet. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Peter Schworm, “Town-gown triumph: In poorest part of Worcester, Clark helps put children on path to college”, (Boston Globe, Globe Newspaper company, November 22, 2007), Retrieved 3/30/2010
  27. ^ Rehder, Kristin V. Ed. “Building on Clark’s successes.” Clark News Summer 2007. Vol. 30, No. 3. University Communications Office. 2007. pp. 8-10.
  28. ^ Griffin-Kumpey, Tammy. Ed. Clark University Academic Catalog 2008-2009. “George Perkins Marsh Institute.” Clark University Communications Office. Worcester, MA. 2008. p 21.
  29. ^ Griffin-Kumpey, Tammy. Ed. Clark University Academic Catalog 2008-2009. “Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.” Clark University Communications Office. Worcester, MA. 2008. p. 21.
  30. ^ Griffin-Kumpey, Tammy. Ed. Clark University Academic Catalog 2005-2006. “Education: Program Overview.” Clark University Communications Office. Worcester, MA. 2005. p. 53.
  31. ^ Griffin-Kumpey, Tammy. Ed. Clark University Academic Catalog 2008-2009. “Center for Risk and Security (CRS).” Clark University Communications Office. Worcester, MA. 2008. p. 22.
  32. ^ Koelsch, William A. Clark University 1887-1987: A Narrative History. Clark University Press. Worcester, MA. 1987. p. 231.
  33. ^ "Clark University | Marsh Institute". Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  34. ^ Freeland, Richard M. “The Clark/AAC&U Conference on Liberal Education and Effective Practice.” Liberal Education, Fall 2009. Vol. 95, No. 4.
  35. ^ Rehder, Kristin V. Ed. “Building on Clark’s successes.” Clark News Summer 2007. Vol. 30, No. 3. University Communications Office. 2007. Pp. 8-10.
  36. ^ “About Clark: Historical Timeline”, (Clark University Web Communications), Retrieved 2010-03-19
  37. ^ Matt Byrne, “Clark drops Holocaust scholar: Schedule conflict, controversy cited”, (Boston Globe, Globe Newspaper company, April 10, 2009), Retrieved 2009-03-19
  38. ^ Lee Hammel, “Clark speaker: Israel provoked war: Controversial call for Palestinian peace pact”, (Telegram & Gazette, April 28, 2009), Retrieved 2009-03-19
  39. ^ Gains, Lee V. (April 9, 2011). "Activist Noam Chomsky slated to speak at Clark". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ryan, W. Carson. Studies in Early Graduate Education: The Johns Hopkins, Clark University, The University of Chicago. New York: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1939. OCLC 41645290.
  • Koelsch, William A. Clark University, 1887–1987: A Narrative History. Worcester: Clark University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-914206-25-7. OCLC 17064546.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°15′04″N 71°49′23″W / 42.250977°N 71.823169°W / 42.250977; -71.823169