August 16, 2010 | last updated March 25, 2012 2:56 am

New Leadership Readies For Year Ahead At Clark | Goals include lifting the college to the national stage

Photo/Courtesy
This fall, David Angel will welcome the first class of freshman to Clark University since he took over the president's post in July.

For the first time in a decade Clark University will have a new president when students return to campus this fall and the man occupying the post, David Angel, already has plans to make his mark on the school.

Angel, who took over the spot in July, said his overall goal is to increase the national stature and reputation of the school.

To do that, Angel — who previously served as the university provost and vice president of academic affairs — wants the school to become a "national thought leader" in liberal arts education by implementing a reworked academic curriculum. Angel has been crafting the plan with faculty and staff for the last two years. When it launches this fall, the new program promises to be the first fingerprint of the Angel presidency at the university.

Looking Ahead

The soft-spoken native Englishman received his doctorate degree in geography from UCLA in 1989. Since then he's studied and written about industrial development, with a recent focus on sustainable development and the green economy, and taught geography and economics.

Angel said that he believes Clark is on the right track, and that he's not looking to make dramatic changes to the university.

"In terms of our core identity, what the institution stands for, its core values, I think Clark has got it right," he said.

But he and the board of trustees do have priorities to pursue in the coming years, all with the end goal of increasing the school's reputation and national stature.

For example, Angel is hoping the new academic program will allow students to study abroad earlier in their college careers. Angel said many students decide what they want to study and major in while studying abroad, so he's hoping students can identify an area of study earlier in their college careers so they have more time to study in that subject while in school.

Another part of the new academic program aims to connect students with real-world experiences related to their major. That can be done through volunteer opportunities, jobs or internships.

William Mosakowski, chairman of the Clark University Board of Trustees and president of the Boston-based Public Consulting Group, said he shares Angel's top priority.

"We need to really highlight the quality of the students who graduate from our university, the great professionals we have and their national and international stature in research," he said. "We do a great job here and we need to share that with the world, and that's what we're hoping David will be able to do."

Angel replaces former president John Basset, who announced his retirement last year. Bassett took a position as president of Heritage University in Washington State.

The school received some interest from outside candidates, Mosakowski said, but the board chose to select Angel for the position in December before outside finalists were named.

Now, Angel said he'll be guiding the university through a "time of change" in the higher education industry.

The economic recession of recent years will result in fundamental shifts in the way private education is offered to students, Angel said. One area that Angel said must be addressed nationwide is affordability and access to education.

The rising cost of a college education is increasingly difficult given rising expenses, the labor-intensive nature of running a university and the demand for colleges to always offer more and new programs, according to Angel.

He said expenses have been cut at Clark by about 6 percent since 2008. Tuition for the upcoming school year at Clark will cost incoming freshmen $36,100.

According to filings with the IRS, the university reported $126.5 million in revenue for the fiscal year that ended May 31, 2009, a nearly 10 percent increase from the $115.4 million in the revenue the school reported year before. However, the university swung to a nearly $9.3 million loss in 2009 after reporting a $26.7 million surplus in 2008.

Clark has teamed with other colleges and universities in the region, as well as U.S. Rep. James McGovern, to create the Institute for Energy and Sustainability, which is aiming to increase the green economy sector in Worcester. Angel said down the line there may be some opportunities to help create incubator space for young green companies, along the same idea of what Worcester Polytechnic Institute has done with Gateway Park for biotechnology, but not to that scale.

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