What Leaving Clark Will Mean
Over a year ago, in November of 2012, I wrote a post titled “What Coming Back to Clark Will Mean“. I was in London at the time, and reflecting on the post now I realize that it was less about what coming back to Clark would mean for me (or, for that matter, for Clark) and more of a laundry list of the things I was planning on doing when I returned to Clark. What I didn’t really talk about was what is unique about Clark that I would be returning to – what Clark is that is special – and that’s what I want to write about a little bit today. The frame will be a little different, of course, as I’m now temporally closer to leaving Clark for good than I am to coming back to it. But the thought will be the same: this is the post I should have written in November of 2012.
Leaving Clark will mean missing social justice being a part of almost every conversation I have. It will mean leaving a world where academic work of the highest quality is mixed with idealism and pragmatism in equal measure. It will mean being out of the company of people who aren’t afraid to search for meaning instead of money. It will mean leaving behind faculty and staff who have given me enormous quantities of their time and energy over these four years. It will mean having to actualize, for the first time in the real world, the principles of the LEEP model of education. And most of all, it will mean missing a place where every walk across campus is a walk amongst friends.
I’m not really looking forward to all of that. Of course I’m looking forward to the next stage of my life (it would be a real shame if I wasn’t) but I will miss this place. In August 2010, when I wrote my first post for Diaries, I’m not sure I would have expected that. I think I would’ve expected to have gotten an education, and maybe made a few friends along the way, but not to miss the fundamental character of the institution. I’m so glad that I do. I’m so glad that I go to a school that has a character all its own – that isn’t like everywhere else – so that I can understand more clearly the ways I’ve been defined by my four years here.
In Admissions, we talk alot about how we can’t be like everyone else, if we want to attract Clarkies to Clark. If we try to present ourselves as being just like all the other liberal arts schools across the country, we won’t succeed. Because we’re not like everyone else. Nobody else does research like we do, or integrates it as closely into their curriculum. Nobody else is as engaged with the realities of social policy as we are, or embraces living in a city like Worcester as we do. Nobody else does what we do in the combination we do it. I’m going to miss that combination, and I’m going to miss Clark when I leave it.