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Communication from the Board of Trustees

December 7, 2022

The Clarke University Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that we have filled the position of interim president.

Fletcher Lamkin, Ph.D., will be assuming his duties effective January 3, 2023, and will serve for 12-18 months or until the search for Clarke’s seventeenth president is completed and the president assumes office.

Lamkin’s experience in higher education is extensive, ranging from a professor, dean of academics, vice president for institutional advancement, and president for several colleges, including serving as president at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri from 2017-2020.

During his three years, Lamkin developed and implemented strategic plans to address shortcomings from all areas of campus, restored the College to financial stability and health, and instituted technological improvements for data management, wireless communications, and classroom modification, among other things.

Following his time at Westminster, Lamkin served as a consultant for CampusWorks, an organization that collaborates with colleges and universities to develop and implement insightful strategies to improve institutional effectiveness and enhance the student experience.

“Clarke’s rich history and inspirational mission, vision, and values make it a special and unique resource for the region and the State of Iowa,” said Lamkin. “I view the Clarke University strategic goals of student success, employee wellness, financial resiliency, and community relationships as highly appropriate and eminently achievable. I also view the need to improve communications with all major constituencies as a critical element of moving forward. We can realize success by collaboratively leading Clarke’s extraordinary people to build upon the exceptional plans that have been developed, thereby providing a strong foundation of financial wellness, stable enrollments, and student success for the next president.”

As the Board and all of the Clarke community welcome Lamkin to campus, we set the following goals and expectations for the interim presidency:

  • To provide effective and inspiring leadership
  • To operate transparently and improve communication across the campus community
  • To carefully assess the strengths and weaknesses of the institution in relation to the Strategic Plan
  • To advance and improve academic, student life, enrollment, financial, and fund-raising operations;
  • To capitalize on the investments that the institution has already made through the engagement of major consulting firms and the resulting initiatives;
  • To lead the continuing exploration of strategic partnerships with other Catholic institutions located in the same region;
  • To establish a platform for the success of the next President of Clarke University.

Please join us in welcoming Fletcher to Clarke, as he takes on this important leadership role.


Carolyn Haupert                             Margaret Mary Cosgrove, BVM
Chair, Board of Trustees                Vice Chair, Board of Trustees

November 17, 2022

The Board is actively working with representatives of the Clarke Community to bring in an experienced interim president to lead Clarke University during a transition period while plans are being made to search for a new President.

The search for an interim President is being led by Board of Trustee members Cathy Schulze and Mary Ann Zollmann. They are delighted to welcome Courtney Boyd to represent Clarke’s staff, Jody Wolfe to represent Clarke’s faculty, and Beth McGrath to represent Clarke’s cabinet during the interview and selection process. Additional members of the interview and selection committee for the interim President are Board of Trustee members Kate Corrigan and Dan Rank.

The Board of Trustee leaders have identified three highly qualified interim candidates working with The Registry, a well-regarded academic leadership placement service that pre-qualifies interim senior academic leaders. The Registry has successfully matched experienced senior higher education leaders for interim positions to major universities across the country with an impressive track record of successful interim placements.

The interim president candidates that the committee is interviewing have demonstrated significant experience successfully leading 4-year Catholic universities, including through major transition periods, serving as both presidents and interim presidents.

All three candidates identified for interviews have been provided with the mission, vision, and values of Clarke University as well as documents that include information from consulting groups that include your voices from the Clarke community.

Due to the time-sensitive need to identify a highly qualified interim President and the pre-vetting of candidates who share Clarke University values and goals that has been done by The Registry, the process to name an interim President is abbreviated and will be guided by the above representatives to the search and identification committee.

The candidate chosen will have proven effective communication and leadership skills and a positive history of working with faculty and staff toward meeting the goals of the university they serve.

Additionally, the candidate identified as the interim will have led universities to financial health through strategic program development and growth, as well as through the rigorous assessment of potential partnership opportunities across universities.

The Board is grateful for the commitment and expertise of Clarke University’s senior administrative and academic leadership team members, as well as the time and talent of all faculty and staff at Clarke University, especially for their ongoing dedication to Clarke’s success during this transition process.

The Board is fully committed to being transparent during this process and working closely with the Clarke community to ensure a smooth and effective transition during the interim period that will position Clarke University well for ongoing future success.

Given the expertise and dedication of university leaders, faculty and staff, as well as the Board of Trustees’ confidence in the interview and selection committee to identify a strong interim leader, the Board does not anticipate any major disruptions to academic or service programs that negatively impact learners or any disruptions to employment, professional development, and promotion opportunities for Clarke University faculty and staff during the interim period. We thank all members of the Clarke University Community for their ongoing assistance, support, and input!

The Board of Trustees is especially grateful to Dr. Eden Wales Freedman for her continued expert leadership working with all of you to prepare the university for full reaccreditation in the coming year.

The selected interim president will be on board before the end of this year, when Dr. Thom Chesney’s contract expires. Thom is fully committed to assisting with the transition to an interim president as needed.

After the interim president is appointed and on-boarded, plans to search for the next president to lead Clarke University into the future will be developed with input from the entire Clarke Community.

There are no expectations that the interim president would be considered for the future Clarke University president role, in fact, all candidates are only interested in transitional interim presidential roles to help prepare universities for a successful permanent appointment of a future presidential leader, including the next leader for Clarke University.

Carolyn Haupert                          Margaret Mary Cosgrove, BVM
Chair, Board of Trustees            Vice Chair, Board of Trustees

November 1, 2022

Earlier today President Thom Chesney communicated to Clarke University faculty and staff his personal decision not to continue at Clarke after December 2022.

During his time at Clarke, Thom’s contributions:

  • increased enrollment through initiatives such as CC Today, CU Tomorrow;
  • navigated the university through the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • helped improve Clarke’s social mobility score, raising our ranking from 62 in 2021 to 46 in 2022, reflecting the institution’s continued commitment to student success and well-being;
  • and through a partnership with Loras College and the University of Dubuque, the Dubuque Promise Program was created to grant local student scholarships.

We appreciate Thom’s contributions and wish him well with his future endeavors.

In the coming days, we will have more information to share about what you can expect as next steps in this important leadership transition. In the meantime, know that we are committed to all the good efforts underway to support student success. We will be in touch soon.


Mary Rose Corrigan         Margaret Mary Cosgrove, BVM
Board of Trustees             Board of Trustees