Clark University President John Bassett today (April 29) announced the establishment of the Ruth and John Adam Education Fund, a gift of more than $14.2 million made to enhance Clark’s nationally recognized model for urban secondary education and reform, teacher-training and community education partnerships.
The fund, resulting from the largest single gift in Clark history, was announced at a 4:30 p.m. press conference at Clark. Speakers included President Bassett, Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Melinda Boone, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville, and Bowditch & Dewey attorney Michael Brockelman.
John “Jack” Adam Jr. established the fund before his death in 2009 at age 94. The former Clark University trustee and CEO of the Hanover Insurance Company was a highly respected business leader and philanthropist. He also was a sharp observer of the American education system and the “fundamental connection between education and the underclass.
The Adam Education Fund will support Clark’s Jacob Hiatt Center for Urban Education, which offers an intensive, full-year Master of Arts in Teaching program, designed to prepare Clark students interested in elementary, middle or high school teaching in urban settings. The Center provides support to schools in the surrounding Main South neighborhood and other Worcester Public Schools, exemplified by the highly acclaimed University Park Campus School, and also through use-inspired research and education reform initiatives such as Innovation Schools. These are integral parts of the expanded collaboration supported by the fund, which will enable Worcester Public Schools and Clark to promote this successful urban education reform on a national scale.
“Clark is ecstatic about receiving this extraordinary bequest. Jack Adam came to believe that Clark University, with its splendid Education program, was the right institution to improve the chances of our least privileged youth to have, through education, a chance to be a success.”
—President John Bassett
“University Park Campus School is emblematic of what I hope we’re trying to attain — education at its best for urban youth,” said Reville, during a press conference announcing the fund. “The power of that school is fanning out from this community literally all across the world, in terms of what Clark has been able to accomplish in education and set a model for the rest of the world. … Lots of people talk about community connections, community support, and community development. Clark actually does it and does it with relatively little celebration.”
This $14.2 million gift is an endowed fund that must, as a condition of the donor, be invested in perpetuity by Clark University with its other endowed funds. Officials estimate that annual program expenditures in excess of $600,000 will be available to meet the several objectives of the fund, as outlined by Mr. Adam. The bequest will provide new capacities for Clark to:
— Strengthen graduate programs in education;
— Build on the success of the University Park Campus School with a particular focus on promoting college-readiness among underrepresented students in Main South (and beyond);
— Undertake initiatives to strengthen Clark’s research profile around issues of urban education within the overall framework of use-inspired research.
“The Adam gift provides a tremendous opportunity for the Hiatt Center to extend its commitment to bring the University and public schools together in powerful ways that increase learning and life opportunities for urban youth. We are excited to launch a new stage of our work,” said Thomas Del Prete, director of the Jacob Hiatt Center for Urban Education.
Mr. Adam was president emeritus of Hanover Insurance Company, now known as the Hanover Insurance Group in Worcester. He was a member of Clark’s Board of Trustees from 1975 to 1981, chairman of the Mass. Board of Higher Education from 1972 to 1977, and president and a founding director of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.
Mr. Adam graduated from South High School and attended Clark from 1933 to 1934. He withdrew in good standing and went on to graduate from Oberlin College in Ohio with a degree in economics. He attributed much of his success and commitment to education to the fine teachers in his life. Clark awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Law in 1974, when he delivered the commencement address titled, “Private-Public Higher Education in Massachusetts — A Unique Opportunity.”
“I am personally grateful that I had a chance to know Jack well during his final years, and I believe that in the long run his mark on education will be as profound as his mark on the insurance industry was,” said President Bassett. “He gave generously to provide young people with opportunities to have a productive career and a rewarding life. He cared as deeply about the arts and the fullness of life as he did about success and economic development. He also gave generously of himself and liked nothing better than mentoring younger people on being good managers.”
Mr. Adam died Feb. 8, 2009, in Brewster. His wife of 55 years, Ruth E. (Maddock) Adam, died in 2001.