Legacy of a self-described unlikely president
President Robert Knight, who announced his retirement as the leader of the Penguin Nation effective August 31, 2019, is fond of saying that he never purposely sought out the job as president.
“I’m definitely not your traditional college leader,” Knight often tells newcomers to Clark College.
As a United States Military Academy graduate and career officer, Knight came into the role as Clark president through a somewhat circuitous way—first as the head of administrative services for the institution, then as interim president and finally as president. Knight takes pride in the fact he has brought a different perspective to Clark and he thinks it has helped him garner support from the community.
It would be hard to argue against Knight’s point of view. Since taking the reins of the institution 13 years ago, Clark has seen tremendous growth, particularly when it comes to projects and programs that are financially supported by Clark College Foundation.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done to improve the Early Childhood Education laboratories, the new STEM building, the Dental Hygiene program and the soon-to-be Clark College at Boschma Farms campus in Ridgefield,” said Knight. “But there are so many more programs and projects—almost too many to mention—that our faculty, staff and volunteers have helped us accomplish.”
Indeed, Knight’s legacy is significant, and perhaps no effort is potentially more profound to Clark than guided pathways, the holistic makeover of the institution’s academic programs and support services aimed at increasing student completion rates and better preparing graduates for family-wage jobs.
“Bob has been a powerful force for positive change,” said Lisa Gibert, CEO of Clark College Foundation. It’s a sentiment shared by the foundation’s board of directors vice chair, Eric Merrill, in the foundation’s official response to Bob’s retirement announcement. Here are just a few of the other significant achievements that have taken place under Knight’s tenure:
Bachelor degrees in dental hygiene, applied management and human services;
Soon-to-be launched bachelor degree in cyber security;
Opening of the Tod and Maxine McClaskey Culinary Institute; and
$1 million scholarship movement—the college’s and foundation’s joint effort resulting in millions of dollars of extra scholarship support for students over the past three years.
“There is no doubt about it, Bob’s impact on Clark will be felt for many years to come,” said Joel B. Munson, chief advancement officer for Clark College Foundation.
Not too bad a legacy for a self-described unlikely president.
Written by Joel B. Munson, chief advancement officer for Clark College Foundation.