As deputy chief of staff for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, T.F. Scott Darling ’84 works for an organization that knows a thing about getting people from one place to another. So it seems appropriate that as he talks about Clark’s pioneering model for higher education, LEEP™ (Liberal Education and Effective Practice), Darling uses the imagery of “connecting the dots” to describe how he sees the program serving Clark students as they move from college life into the wider world.
Watch T.F. Scott Darling ’84 talk about his career path after Clark
“For people at Clark in my generation, LEEP is something we did on our own with the college’s support,” he recalls. “I was a government and geography major, and I went out and found the internships and the people who would give me real-world experience. But we didn’t brand it, we didn’t own it, we didn’t name it. Clark is now connecting the dots by having everyone in the Clark family take ownership of this and be part of it.” Darling is joining ten others, nine of them alumni, on the LEEP Advisory Committee, which will help administrators and faculty articulate the LEEP message among alumni, and assist in building and maintaining a network to engage Clarkies in LEEP-related mentoring, employment and resource-generation opportunities.
Darling notes that alumni are well-suited to offer guidance and direction about how students can better transform their college education and experiences into effective applications in the workplace and beyond. “I’m hoping the administration will capture some of our experiences and integrate those lessons into LEEP,” he says. Paul Saltzman ’82, president and general counsel of The Clearing House Association L.L.C., the nation’s oldest banking association and payments company, agrees that it’s important to incorporate the voices of professionals into the LEEP execution. He noted that LEEP is already bearing fruit: His company is working with Dean of the College Walter Wright to establish internship opportunities for Clark students. “At the entry level we’re concerned about core competencies, things like judgment, character and work ethic,” Saltzman says. “We want to know if the person is intelligent and has strong interpersonal skills. Are they well-rounded? “The unique thing about Clark is the commitment from the professors and administration to ensure that students have a great liberal arts education, but also can apply that education to real-world circumstances.”
He notes his own Clark experience was rich with extracurricular activities and leadership opportunities, which included participating on trustee committees, chairing Spree Day and getting involved in development work. Saltzman is proud that he is the only non-athlete to win the Fred Hebert Award, given to the male senior who has made significant contributions to the athletics program. Saltzman immersed himself in the Athletics Department during his years at Clark, managing the men’s basketball team for Coach/Athletic Director Wally Halas and laying the groundwork for the sports information director’s position. “Clark gave us the chance to develop these skill sets, and LEEP puts it into context and memorializes something that always existed,” he says. Marylyn R. Helfenbein, M.A. Ed. ’66, Ed.D. ’72, spent much of her career in higher education teaching at Worcester area colleges and conducting research in the Worcester Public Schools. Today’s students, she says, “are more in tune with the world — life is less static. We are heading into a new future, and they should take part in deciding what that future should be.” Helfenbein is enthusiastic about serving on the LEEP Advisory Committee. “I’ve kept in touch with Clark,” she says. “Clark gave me a career; broadened my outlook on the world, and I’m very glad to be on this committee. Clark knows it has to change, and it’s willing to change.”
Darling has already seen LEEPish qualities in Clark students. He recalls helping student David Jackson ’13 to secure an internship with MBTA operations. Jackson proved himself such a valuable addition to the department that he was given his own office, a “violation” of protocol. “I have this rule: interns get cubicles, not offices,” Darling laughs. “But David became such a key member of the Planning and Scheduling Team, he got an office. He was the perfect example of someone creating his own LEEP experience.” Ultimately, Darling said, the Advisory Committee’s mission boils down to one main precept: “Clarkies have a duty to assist in shaping the Clark experience.” Read the Clark News Hub story about the Feb. 29 LEEP launch day in Tilton Hall.