By Beth McGrath, Vice President for Business and Finance
At Clarke, we had a challenging 2020. In March, we made the difficult decision to send our students home to finish their semester virtually. Throughout the summer we did everything we could to provide a safe environment for our students and employees so they could come back to us in the fall. This included thousands of face masks, over 24,000 ounces of hand sanitizer, and countless linear feet of Plexiglas. For the safety of our current students and our valued alumni, we chose to engage in virtual homecoming activities instead of gathering together as we would have liked.
But what stands out most to me through all of these challenges is one thing – our people. Our students and faculty have always been second to none and have continued to be amazing in spite of the many twists and turns that 2020 brought to Clarke. They have embraced efforts to be kind and understanding with one another, engaged with technology in new ways, and have been exceptional community members who embody the mantra “One Clarke, One Community.”
Always important, but sometimes unrecognized, is our staff. Their efforts during this pandemic have been extraordinary. They have found new ways to provide nourishment for our students, employed new methods of cleaning and sanitation, implemented new technology, and have given more than could ever be asked of them.
Our staff are some of the most loyal and committed people I have ever met. They have moved Clarke through challenging times before and they continue to do it to this day. For a moment, I would like to spotlight a few of our longest serving staff members as part of the Business and Finance umbrella. Their efforts to provide a quality Clarke experience to our students are sometimes unseen, but their contributions are no less important than the quality education and activities our students appreciate each day.
Andy Bellings is the Chief Technology Officer and has been a Clarke employee for 28 years. When he started at Clarke, computers were just starting to show up, with just a few in labs around campus and reel to reel tape drives and green bar paper were the norm. Andy, and his wife, Sai ’03 have two children, both born in Japan and who are trilingual. Andy has traveled to Japan 35 times in the past 20 years, even more times than Sai!
Kathy Meyer is the Office Manager for our Dining Services team. She has been at Clarke for 29 years, starting as the salad makers’ helper and lunch checker. She was the first and has been the only Office Manager in Dining Services, and so she has been able to build the position from scratch. Kathy has four children and six grandchildren that keep her active and busy.
Deb Theill ’88 has worked within the Student Accounts office for all 32 years she has spent at Clarke. She started as an employee just after graduation. “My early memories of working here were of all of the BVMs in the offices. There was so much care and concern for everyone. They loved when we would bring our young kids and babies up in the office to visit.” Deb has worked part-time at Clarke for most of her years. Her family owns a dairy and pig farm, and her days off are spent doing the farm books and helping on the farm as needed.
Jane Luchsinger also works with our Dining Services team and has been at Clarke for 34 years. She can most often be seen welcoming the Clarke community into the Dining Hall, but has also run a food cart, convenience store, and the old student union during her time here. Jane has three grown children and seven beautiful grandchildren.
Darrell Deutmeyer is our beloved Carpenter and has been at Clarke for 40 years. “In 1980, Sister Xavier Coens took a chance on a young twenty–year–old with long hair and a two–year horticulture degree and hired me for maintenance and yard work.” Darrell was later hired on as the Carpenter and never returned to the yard. Darrell’s most memorable moment was clear – the fire of 1984. “I remember the day like it was yesterday, the fire broke out on campus while I was working. Steve Cue and I ran into the fire to help get the nuns out from upstairs in Margaret Mann Hall.” Outside of working at Clarke, three of Darrell’s children have either graduated from Clarke or utilized the tuition exchange program. Darrell also met his wife of 21 years, Kelley Deutmeyer ‘84, when she was working in the Institutional Advancement office at Clarke. Darrell enjoys spending time with his five grandchildren; bird, whale, and bear watching; and traveling the world with Kelley.
In these challenging and ever-changing times, the one thing we can always count on is our Clarke employees. They work hard each day to provide the best environment for our students to learn and grow.