Legacy fund honors outgoing Clark president

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A Robert and Paula Knight Legacy Fund was created by Clark College Foundation. Be one of the 5,000 voices that declares why you support Clark.


Robert Knight

Outgoing President Robert Knight addressing graduates at Clark’s Commencement in 2018. He’ll have one last appearance at the podium as president on June 20, 2019. Photo by Nick Bremer Korb

By Joel B. Munson

President Robert K. 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 of 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, the new Tod and Maxine McClaskey Culinary Institute 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.”

Knight is especially proud of the results of the college’s most recent accreditation review by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, which he announced earlier this year. Clark received commendations in six categories, including its efforts related to guided pathways—the overhaul of Clark’s academic programs and student services—Veterans Resource Center and progress within the institution’s social equity plan.

“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, including Cheree Nygard, outgoing board chair.

“This is a much stronger institution than it was when Bob became president 13 years ago,” said Nygard. “His connection to this community is significant, and that connection has made the college stronger.”

Nygard added that much of the foundation’s success in its current $35 million fundraising campaign—called Promising Pathways—is attributed to Bob’s enthusiasm for Clark and the community’s support of his vision. So far, more than $19 million that has been raised is earmarked for priority programs and projects including guided pathways, advanced manufacturing, Veterans Resource Center, McClaskey Culinary Institute and scholarships.

Nygard and board members believe alumni, community members and other friends give to the campaign, in part, because they see the positive results from the college’s strategic plan and the institution’s mission to provide quality education opportunities to all students.

The foundation, therefore, is launching a mini-campaign within its Promising Pathways fundraising effort, focusing on two priority areas that are near and dear to Knight’s heart—the Veterans Resource Center and area of greatest need.

The foundation intends to raise an additional $200,000 to provide essential support for students in honor of Robert Knight and his wife, Paula. By giving generously in the Knights’ honor, community members will simultaneously salute an effective leader and support two of the institution’s priority needs.

To support the Robert and Paula Knight Legacy Fund, include your check or credit card information in the return envelope included in this magazine. Indicate the amount you want to donate and on the purpose line that reads “other,” write the Knight Fund. For questions, email Joel B. Munson at jmunson@clark.edu.


5,000 voices harmonize promising pathways

Successful fundraising campaigns aren’t defined by money alone, according to Joel B. Munson, chief advancement officer for Clark College Foundation.

“People generate successful campaigns. People who not only share their gifts, no matter the size, but also their voices of support for causes they believe in,” Munson said.

Clark College Foundation is launching 5,000 Voices, an initiative aimed at securing 5,000 donors who want to give to Promising Pathways: The Campaign for Clark College, and who also want to share their feelings about why they give. For example, a mini-campaign to support the newly announced Robert and Paula Knight Legacy Fund is an example of how Clark College donors can support Promising Pathways and express their appreciation to the outgoing president.#ipromiseclarkcollege

Between now and the end of the Promising Pathways campaign in December 2021, the foundation plans to share donors’ testimonies via its website, monthly Penguin Post newsletter, Clark Partners magazine, Penguin Chats podcasts and on Facebook and Twitter. These inspiring stories demonstrate why Clark donors are some of the most generous community college supporters in the state of Washington. Watch for more details on how you can become one of 5,000 voices making a difference for Clark College students.

Why do you give to Clark College? Be one of the 5,000 voices that tells your story.

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Joel B. Munson is the chief advancement officer for Clark College Foundation.

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