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Building on a foundation of success for a brilliant future

By Gayle Langel  |  August 23, 2021

In July, I moved to Dubuque to begin work at Clarke. The decision to start a new job can be difficult, but this time the choice was clear. I believe in the power of the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs to transform lives. I esteem the Catholic intellectual tradition and share the Sisters of Charity, BVM’s Core Values. At Clarke, I knew I could belong. Already, I know that I was right. I can see firsthand the gifts Clarke offers, empowering students to become courageous leaders and compassionate human beings.  

Though some dismiss the relevance of faith-based liberal arts education to our contemporary era, we have never needed Clarke more. As society faces large-scale and complex questions about the environment, global health, and social justice, we have become increasingly polarized. Too often we talk at instead of to one another. We undermine intellectual and ethical engagement. We refuse to find common ground. To move toward charity, justice, and freedom, we need Clarke, where students can develop creative, critical, and empathic skills to advance as individuals and transform their communities. From our general education program, Compass, to our adult studies program, CareerPLUS, our academic programs inspire intellectual curiosity, cultural engagement, professional preparedness, spiritual exploration, and a commitment to the common good.  

Clarke meets a real need: to prepare students to engage with today’s most pressing social, political, cultural, and economic issues. Whether students earn associates, bachelor’s, or graduate degrees, whether they enter as first-year or transfer students, whether they pursue a diploma or non-degree advancement, at Clarke, they become nuanced thinkers and ethical leaders, able to address global problems and possibilities alike.  

Here, we know that education is lifelong and life-changing. In fact, though I completed my degrees long ago, I was delighted this June to enroll in a micro course that helped prepare me to lead academics at Clarke. This self-paced, online class was one of the best I have taken, and I have been learning and teaching all my life. 

At Clarke, education is not only enriching but practical, preparing students for a competitive and changing job market. Studies show that faith-based liberal arts and professional programs deliver the learning outcomes employers seek, such as the ability to communicate, collaborate, apply knowledge to the “real world,” and make complex decisions. Clarke meets students where they are and takes them where they want to go. Our students receive personalized advising, and the Margaret Mann Academic Resource Center assists with writing, time management, and study skills so everyone can succeed. A career counselor reviews resumes, partners with employers, and helps students prepare for interviews. Given the strength of our academic programs and support, I am not surprised that 98 percent of Clarkies begin careers or enroll in additional schooling the year they graduate. 

As I begin my work with the Clarke community, I look forward to following the call of Mary Frances Clarke to keep our university “progressive with the times.” There is certainly a great deal of success to build from: We have recently introduced new and revised graduate programs, such as the Master of Athletic Training and Master of Business Administration; the Bachelors of Applied Studies; and a certificate in Nutrition and Food Science; with additional initiatives coming soon. We regularly launch micro courses, digital badges, and stackable credentials that meet the needs and interests of individuals and employers. Our university shapes minds and changes lives. I am honored to have joined One Clarke, One Community. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.