Alumni Spotlight: Michael Rash ’66
It was the 1960s. Hip-hugging slacks with bell-bottoms were in style. Women’s hemlines had crept up, while boots got higher. The Vietnam War was in full swing. Civil rights and race relations were on the minds of many.
A soapbox set out on the patio at Clark College’s Gaiser Hall was a weekly ceremony in free speech. Michael Rash ’66 was the president of Associated Students of Clark College, already hard at work establishing relationships with students and faculty—what would later become his life’s work.
Rash was the first generation in his family to graduate from college. His father never finished high school, until, upon retirement, he went to Clark for his GED. His brother, Don, four years his junior, followed Rash to Clark.
Classes were small, professors were accessible and the campus was inviting. Larry Easter was his psychology professor. Antonio “Chick” Scarpelli was a tough economics professor. And Larry Mains, a childhood friend, was honing his craft by baking rolls and selling them to Rash and his buddies for pennies on the dollar in the late afternoons.[box type=”none” style=”rounded” border=”full”]
Rash has fond memories of Larry Mains, a childhood friend, who was honing his craft by baking rolls and selling them to Rash and his buddies for pennies on the dollar in the late afternoons.[/box]
By 1966, Rash graduated from Clark “with a strong academic foundation.” He continued his studies at Washington State University where he graduated with academic distinction and as a member of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa.
He got a job with Shell Oil and had every intention of returning to Clark to teach. Instead, he spent more than 32 years fine-tuning a human resources craft and traveling to Shell locations in every state.
“I was the go-to guy for people problems. My job was to help local management better lead the employees,” he said, adding, “I knew most of the union presidents and many of the employees. The job involved trust.”
Drawing from his Clark leadership days, Rash found that problems were best resolved through cooperation. “Relationships are the only way that we would work together better.”
Rash retired in 2001 and lives in Houston, Texas, with his wife. He’s an avid college sports fan—particularly Rice University baseball, whose stadium is just down the street from his home. Rash claims to have attended 20 college world series.
“It’s a dream come true to sit back and follow college sports.”
He’s reminded of the countless hours he and his dad used to sit on the sidelines rooting for Clark’s baseball and basketball teams.In memory of his father, Rash gives annually to Clark’s Penguin Athletic Club, and has been a long-time financial supporter of the college in other areas.