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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

President Marco Clark delivers ‘State of the College’ address

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Holy Cross College President Marco Clark expressed his faith in the mission of Holy Cross College and his optimism about the College’s future during his first “State of the College” speech Thursday afternoon.

Clark, who is serving in his first year as president, reflected on his fond memories so far at Holy Cross and the “radical hospitality” he has received.

“[My wife and I] have fallen deeply in love with Holy Cross College, our students, the faculty and staff, the families and the communities of South Bend and the greater Michiana region,” Clark said.

Clark praised the “world class” faculty and staff, as well as the “culture of care” he sees at the College.

“Students that attend here are seen, they’re known, they’re loved and they’re served,” he said.

Clark, repeating a similar theme from his inaugural address in March, conveyed optimism for the College.

“This is our time here at Holy Cross College,” he said.

Clark stressed that financial stability is crucial to the College’s future and once again touted the debt-free position of the College.

Being debt-free “has put us in a position to grow and to build upon,” he said.

Clark praised the recent accomplishments of the College. He pointed to the national rankings that place Holy Cross College in the top 20% of all liberal arts colleges in social mobility and at No. 52 in the graduation rate of Pell grant eligible students. Holy Cross College has also been recognized as an emerging Hispanic serving institution, meaning that Hispanic students comprise over 30% of its student body.

When it comes to academic programs, Clark highlighted the 19 new academic tracks that have been established in the past year, including neuroscience, exercise science, school counseling, applied math and data science. Clark also announced that 18 new formal pathway graduate agreements have been established, “including but not limited to the tri-campus,” that guarantee spots to 50 Holy Cross students. 

This success has had tangible effects on enrollment numbers, Clark said. This past year, Holy Cross received double the number of applications than last year and is set to have a record high number of students enroll.

Clark also touted the “banner year” in fundraising efforts for the College. The College has seen a 60% increase in donations from 50% more donors than last year, Clark said.

“The word is out about Holy Cross College,” Clark said.

Despite the recent success, though, Clark acknowledged that the College needs to do a better job of sharing its sense of mission and its success with the world. 

“The great story of Holy Cross College is one that too many people don’t know about. We have to do a better job of elevating our brand and elevating our profile,” he explained, adding that good fiscal stewardship “is always foremost on our minds.” 

“We need you to champion Holy Cross College and be proud of the place [that] this is,” Clark said to the students and alumni watching the speech.

Clark then looked to the future, and once again highlighted his forthcoming five year strategic plan which will be released next month, following approval from the College’s board of trustees. Clark described the plan as,“inspirational, aspirational and operational.”

Although he did not describe the plan in detail, Clark shared that the plan will focus on five central themes: cultivating zeal for mission, affirming the importance of a liberal arts education, providing a transformational student experience, advancing the mission of the college and growing the college strategically and sustainably.

Clark concluded his “State of the College” speech by asking his audience to pray for Holy Cross College and describing his love for the College.

“Holy Cross College is a special place,” Clark said. “It’s a place in which we are intentional about forming the next generation of innovative scholars, courageous citizens, virtuous leaders and hopeful disciples.”