WORCESTER, Mass.—Clark University President John E. Bassett has announced plans to step down from the duties of his office on July 1, 2010.
“Ten years seems about the right time for a university president,” Bassett said, “at least for me. Kay and I decided that we’d like to pursue one more career challenge. I hope to be able to share more as our plans evolve, but I can assure you they will be shaped by our ten years at Clark, just as the Clark experience changes our students, staff, and faculty forever.”
President Bassett began his work at Clark in July 2000 and was formally installed as the University’s eighth president in March 2001.
During a decade marked by tumultuous global and domestic crises and a dramatically altered higher education landscape, Bassett has worked closely with faculty, alumni and friends of the University to advance academic goals and strengthen Clark’s reputation as a research institution. Under his tenure, Clark has significantly strengthened its position in the undergraduate marketplace, becoming a more highly selective university.
At a time when the stock market has been essentially flat, Clark’s endowment during Bassett’s tenure has increased from $152 million to $240 million, a gain of 58 percent. In addition, annual endowment income over that span has grown 124 percent, from $5.8 million to $13 million.
More than half of the current faculty came to Clark during Bassett’s term, and “these teacher-scholars have already had a big impact on student learning, on University research, and on the campus culture,” Bassett said.
“John’s leadership has strengthened the university for many years to come. He has set a tone for the campus, bringing together faculty, students, alumni, and the board to improve the university collaboratively. He has kept us focused on the best interests of the University, improved fundraising, renewed our focus on science, oversaw many material improvements and recruited a significant number of our current faculty and administration.” ~ William S. Mosakowski, chairman of Clark’s Board of Trustees
Bassett is widely recognized as an active and enthusiastic champion of community and social justice, committed to Clark’s involvement in its urban environment and beyond.
“John Bassett has not just been an incredible leader in higher education; he has been a passionate and effective advocate for the Central Massachusetts community at large,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “His commitment to economic development, social justice and our youth will be felt for generations to come. It’s been a real joy to work closely with President Bassett over the last decade, and I’m proud to call him my friend.”
President Bassett has sharpened the University’s focus on liberal education and effective practice, positioning Clark to lead the charge in preparing undergraduates to become engaged citizens and responsible professionals. As a member of the Association of American College and Universities’ President’s Trust, Bassett is at the fore of a movement among higher education leaders who advocate for a strong liberal education. The President’s Trust endeavors to offer students “significantly expanded economic opportunities, while also fostering intellectual resilience, civic capacity and knowledge of the wider world.”
In 2006, through a generous gift to the University, Clark established the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, focused on enhancing government through use-inspired research to address major social issues in America and abroad.
Bassett was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University from 1993 to 2000. He is a scholar and teacher of American literature, publishing 11 books, including “Sherwood Anderson: An American Career” (Susquehanna University Press 2005), more than 30 professional articles, and a newly published annotated bibliography of recent criticism on William Faulkner (Scarecrow Press, 2009).
“This is an important transition period for Clark,” Mosakowski said. “We have one year left of the five-year academic and financial plan that John authored and we are expecting to launch a capital campaign in the near future. This is the right time to begin to look ahead to the next ten years and a good time to assess our options for new leadership.
“By being flexible with his schedule, John Bassett has given us the opportunity to embark on a deliberate and comprehensive search process. We intend to use this time to our advantage and make sure that we get the strongest candidate,” Mosakowski said. “Higher education is in a rapidly changing environment and we will be looking for a leader that can help Clark navigate this new world and take advantage of the opportunities it presents.”
As Clark President, Bassett has significantly upgraded information technology and alumni programs, improved overall student quality, completed a campus master plan, recruited 83 new faculty, and successfully closed a $100 million capital campaign at $106 million. He has more clearly focused academic, research, and co-curricular programs tied to Clark’s signature focus on experiencing diverse cultures, learning through inquiry, and making a difference. He has completed several major facility-improvement projects. Under his leadership, Clark built the Lasry Center for Bioscience, which received a LEED Gold Certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. Clark alsorenovated the 32,000 square-foot biophysics building, the second oldest building on campus. The Traina Center for the Arts, the result of a $7 million renovation and expansion project, opened in October 2002, and the reconfigured athletic fields and Dolan Field House were available in May 2003. Blackstone Hall opened for students for the 2007-2008 academic year, a Silver LEED certified, apartment-style residence hall. The Academic Commons at Goddard Library was completed in 2008.
Clark’s commitment to its neighborhood and the city of Worcester has remained an important focus for Bassett. In addition to the University’s work through the $40 million Main South and University Park Partnership, Clark is a key participant in a citywide education reform effort that earned an $8 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation. Clark is also part of a $35 million initiative in the Kilby-Gardner area resulting in 80 new housing units, a new Boys and Girls Club, and a Clark athletic field.
The University Park Campus School (UPCS) continues to be a uniquely successful project in education reform in a low-income urban area. It was the only New England school listed by Newsweek in 2005 among the 100 best American public high schools and the only urban high school in Massachusetts designated as “high-performing.” In 2004 Clark received the first Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Award in Massachusetts for the most outstanding college-community partnership in the Commonwealth.
President Bassett serves in the Worcester area on the boards of Old Sturbridge Village, the Chamber of Commerce, and Common Pathways. He is a corporator of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and chairs the Leadership Advisory Council of Edward Street Child Services. He is co-chair of the Executive Committees of Massachusetts Campus Compact. He served on the transition team of Gov. Deval Patrick and co-chaired the Governor’s Readiness subcommittee on public higher education. He has chaired the boards of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts and the Colleges of the Worcester Consortium.
Nationally, Bassett is vice-chair of the Board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He served on a commission of the American Council on Education and is on the board of Phi Beta Kappa Fellows. He is on the board of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, overseeing accreditation practices in higher education.