Q&A with President Frederick Clark

Stephanie Dawber

On Sept. 29 President Fred Clark sat down to give a one-on-one interview to discuss his new leadership role at Bridgewater State University (BSU). Throughout the interview, it was evident that BSU can not only expect a new president, but a lot of changes as well.

What are you most excited for as President of BSU?

“I’m most excited by the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of our students. For me, it’s all about student success. As a product of Bridgewater State, I know how important this institution is in transforming the lives in our majors going through our classrooms.”

What are some challenges you expect to face as president?

“We have a couple of different challenges. One is budgetary. We always struggle with budget. The state of Massachusetts today supports public education at a level of 35th of the nation. So we’re near the bottom of support for public higher education at per capita. Although we’re affordable, we worry that student debt and affordability is pressured at BSU. If we’re not affordable, we’re not accessible. The other challenge, demographically, there are less people in K-12 right now. Traditional students are declining, but we’re trying to serve non-traditional students. It’s a challenge because it’s a bit of a cultural shift.”

What are some changes you are currently trying to make?

“We did something unique in public higher education, by creating a division totally dedicated to the success of our students. I call it the Division for Student Success and Diversity. The purpose of the division is to use data to look at student groups to help them to succeed.”

Have there been any changes to the Children’s Center at Bridgewater State University?

“Not really. We are under an order from the state, so our enrollments are frozen by the state at this particular time. I don’t know how much longer this will hold, but we’re using this occasion to really re-imagine how we provide childcare on this campus. On the safety front, all of the recommendations make sure that we have the best practice for a child’s center, which have already been implemented. So we’re fine in terms of the ongoing operations of the Children’s Center from that perspective.”

What procedures or policy changes are you making for campus safety due to the sexual assaults?

“Last year, under the presidency of Mohler-Faria, there was a sexual assault Task Force created. In addition to that, we have changed our protocols of communication of sexual assaults on campus. We have a Red Light protocol on campus, and implemented a Yellow Light protocol. We have a 10 Point Safety plan, which includes physical safety changes on campus. For example, we have very few cameras on this campus. We have almost none in the parking lots, almost none in the entryway for dorms, pretty much none in open areas, like the University Park. We are looking to upgrade our Blue Lights. I have already allocated $100,000 to begin making some improvements.”

What is the best way to contact you if a student has an idea about safety?

“To be honest, I think if they have an idea they should send me an email directly.” The president can be contacted at fred.clark@bridgew.edu.

In your opinion, what are some of Bridgewater State University’s best features?

“First of all, the physical beauty of this campus is something we’re all proud of. We were voted as one of the most beautiful and affordable campuses in the United States of America. What we’re most proud of is our faculty. We invested into our faculty more than any other institution in Mass., public or private. You won’t find yourself in a classroom of 100 students. But we’re most proud of our students. Our students make achievements.”

Stephanie Dawber is the Editor-in-Chief of The Comment. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieDawber.

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