Holy Cross College President Marco Clark, who began his term last July, described his position as “enviable” due to the College’s relatively strong and stable financial position.
“In recent years, several Catholic and small, independent liberal arts colleges have closed,” he said. “One of the ones that’s maybe very close to home is St. Joe’s in Calumet, Indiana.”
Clark said Holy Cross’ financial position will enable the College to focus on progressive initiatives, focusing on growth rather than being held up in debt and stress. He also thanked his predecessor, Fr. David Tyson, the College’s board of trustees, its senior leadership team and faculty and staff for having “sacrificed much” to improve its position.
“We’re not at a point of desperation. We’re at a point of hopefulness. We get a chance now with a very strong foundation to build towards a promising and not only sustainable, but a thriving future,” Clark said.
“Holy Cross College is one of the rare places in the country that is a debt free college and has an endowment that is larger than its operating budget.”
Another strength of Holy Cross which Clark emphasized is its location in the tri-campus, which he considers “the most influential Catholic higher ed zip code in the world.”
Leaders on both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame’s campuses, he said, have been very helpful in his transition to his own role. Furthermore, he said the College plans to strengthen its ties with the tri-campus with future collaborations.
“I couldn’t begin to extend my gratitude more as the newcomer here and I’m really glad to say that Holy Cross hospitality is alive and well here in South Bend,” he said. “And without getting into any specifics of those at this time, I think that throughout the tri-campus we see some unique opportunities to collaborate even more for the greater benefit of all of our students on the three campuses.”
Leading with availability
Clark began his term with promises to listen to students and said he hopes the College community feels he has lived up to that.
“I also have gone on basically I’ll call it a listening tour,” Clark said. “I’ve been meeting with focus groups. I have monthly meetings with groups of students, we call it ‘Coffee with the President.’ I’ve been visible on campus and at activities.”
Clark reflected on his promise that he made at the beginning of the year, noting his transparency from the beginning of his term.
“I think that students, faculty and staff have found out that from what I said up front, I had been true to my word that I would listen,” Clark said.
Student body president Dion Payne-Miller complimented Clark’s availability and said the College is a strong position to thrive under his leadership.
“He has lived up to pretty much everything he said he would do, which is to listen and have a steady presence on campus,” Payne-Miller said. “You will see Dr. Clark almost every day, at least. Like, that’s just how present he is, whether that’s in the cafeteria, whether that’s just passing in the halls, he is present.”
Payne-Miller also said Clark has been helpful for him in his role as student-body president by working with him to achieve certain goals on campus.
“For me as a student-body president, he has been nothing but gracious in the sense that he makes himself available to me. He truly embodies what it means to be a servant leader,” Payne-Miller said. “Him and I have been able to converse a lot and it’s like a two-way street.”
As part of goals to be available and responsive to student needs, Clark has used several committees focused on co-responsibility for management of the College, aiming to involve student voices for each.
“One of the biggest messages that I’ve been saying to everyone about me personally and my leadership, is that I really believe that it’s important that today’s leaders are accessible, that they’re transparent, and that they’re willing to be held accountable,” he said. “Being able to be here at Holy Cross College in this role, I see leadership as an act of love and I see leadership as an act of service.”
Contact Liam Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.