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Fred Clark recommended to become BSU’s 12th president

A son of Bridgewater State University has been unanimously selected to become its 12th president.

The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously and enthusiastically recommended Frederick W. Clark Jr., Esq. of Easton to the position, contingent upon ratification by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education at a special meeting on Dec. 2.

Louis M. Ricciardi, ’81, chairman of the BSU board, polled each board member for a decision among the three finalists who visited campus for extensive interviews earlier this month – Mr. Clark, Dr. Bradley Cook and Dr. Ashish Vaidya.

An audience of more than a hundred faculty, staff, students and external visitors gathered in Crimson Hall’s Dunn Conference Suite for the special meeting burst into spontaneous applause after all 10 trustees in attendance – starting with Vice Chairman Eugene J. Durgin who also chaired the Presidential Search Committee – named Mr. Clark.

Monday night’s vote by the board brought the six-month-long search to an apparent successful conclusion. The search committee reviewed more than 80 applications and conducted eight airport interviews to whittle the field of finalists down to four. One of the finalists, Dr. Cathy Sandeen, accepted a position with the University of Wisconsin system prior to her interview at Bridgewater.

“The goal of the search committee was to choose the best candidate to become the next president of Bridgewater State University,” Mr. Durgin said. “We set the expectations of our next president and defined how this person would take the university to the next level of achievement.”

Mr. Clark, who was returning from a trip to South America when the vote was taken, had told the campus community at an open forum during his interview that the presidency at Bridgewater was his ultimate goal. A 1983 graduate of Bridgewater where he majored in political science, Mr. Clark has been Executive Vice President and Vice President for External Affairs since coming to Bridgewater in 2011.

In that position, he created hundreds of paid internships for Bridgewater students, expanded international engagement by the university leading to 43 partnerships, reinvigorated regional business and educational partnerships, and co-led the establishment of BSU Cape Cod, a satellite campus in Yarmouth that will begin offering courses in January.

A lawyer by profession, and a 1986 graduate of Suffolk University School of Law, Mr. Clark had served for a decade as Executive Officer of the Massachusetts State Universities’ Council of Presidents, where he represented the Commonwealth’s nine state universities in governmental, legislative and public policy issues.

He has been on public higher education governing boards as well, most recently with the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (2007-2008) and, prior to his career in public higher education, on the BSU Board of Trustees and the Bridgewater State University Foundation.

For two decades, he was chief aid to the late Congressman John Joseph Moakey and since 2001 he has presided over the Moakley Charitable Foundation, which has allocated $2 million to assist public service-oriented scholarship recipients who seek to pursue education beyond high school.

Pending BHE approval, Mr. Clark will succeed Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria, who has served as Bridgewater’s president since 2002. President Mohler-Faria will retire next June 30. Compensation issues will be addressed between the board and Mr. Clark prior to the Dec. 2 BHE meeting.

Mr. Clark will begin his presidency during the institution’s 175th anniversary year and following more than a quarter century of historic growth, during which he has played a direct role as either COP executive or in a leadership role on one of the university’s governing boards, or as a member of the president’s Cabinet.

Prior to Dr. Mohler-Faria, Bridgewater presidents were: Adrian Tinsley, 1989-2002; Gerard T. Indelicato, 1986-1987; Adrian Rondileau, 1962-1986, 1987-1989; Clement C. Maxwell, 1952-1962; John J. Kelly, 1937-1951; Zenos Scott, 1933-1937; Arthur C. Boyden, 1906-1933; Albert G. Boyden, 1860-1906; Marshall Conant, 1853-1860; and Nicholas Tillinghast, 1840-1853.

Bridgewater has grown to become the flagship of the state university system. It is the 10th largest higher education institution (public or private) in the Commonwealth and serves a student population of 11,500, of which 95 percent hail from Massachusetts.

Like Mr. Clark himself, more than half of Bridgewater’s undergraduate student body represents the first members of their families to go to college. Of the six children in his family, five attended Bridgewater and it was at Bridgewater where Mr. Clark met his wife, Carrie M. Kulick, who would go on to become president of the Alumni Association. Their sons have also attended Bridgewater.