Clark joins the BOT prepared to learn in all

By Gus Bode

Student trustee stands up for campus issues at first BOT meeting

Despite three years in the Undergraduate Student Government, the Board of Trustees and University administration still intimidated Ted Clark.

“They are the Board of Trustees, and the chancellor and the president is there,” Clark said. “You feel like you are not as important.”


But former student trustee Nathan Stone helped Clark ease his fears and told him that even if he does not feel important, he has to act like it.

Board members, University administration and student representatives noted Clark’s confident transition at the July 11 BOT meeting at the School of Medicine in Springfield.

When undergraduate assistantship approval was tossed to the board at the meeting, Clark did not hesitate to question the nature of the program.

“I was questioning the chancellor, and that felt weird,” Clark said. “But he gave me all the information I asked for.”

Michael Jarard, Undergraduate Student Government president, said Clark pulled out big questions concerning the assistantship program, regardless of the nervous setting of his first BOT meeting.

“He brings professionalism to the position, and he puts his mind in it and gets done,” Jarard said. “I don’t see him going around the students back; he is there for us.”

BOT chair Molly D’Esposito was impressed by Clark’s respectful and responsible approach to his questioning.


“He struck me as a little bit more experienced since he completed a year in medical school,” D’Esposito said.

Clark will soon move to the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield to continue his education, but he plans to represent all SIUC students as he has done throughout his elections and undergraduate activities.

A Carterville native, Clark was destined to go to SIUC as a third-generation graduate from the institution. But the expectation did not bother Clark, even though his career was quite different from his teacher-qualified immediate family.

In fact, his family’s Saluki pride fueled his ambition to pursue a degree in biology and apply for a job in the provost’s office at Wheeler Hall his first day of school.

“It was really cool because I became a messenger, transporting big medical people from the airport and stuff,” Clark said. “There was probably a little motivation from them.”

Even though his four-year job in Wheeler Hall allowed for medical school connections, Clark became interested in the school of politics.

Clark had planned to run for student trustee during his first year of medical school, but with his numerous extracurricular activities, he was afraid his schoolwork would suffer.

“I had to cut a few things out of my life and make [trustee position] my only extracurricular activity,” Clark said. “And historically, I am not very good with elections.”

But after filling his backpack full of flyers and walking on foot from dorm room to dorm room, Clark won the trustee election in April by an almost 2-to-1 margin over his opponent, former USG president Bill Archer.

Jarard said Clark’s involvement in USG and other organizations has helped him develop the skills needed to understand the University political system.

“We are in a budgetary crisis; you don’t want someone who doesn’t understand why there is a building going up and cutting programs at the same time,” Jarard said. “He understands by working with USG.”

Clark also has increased knowledge of student organizations, academics and Saluki spirit through his undergraduate activity involvement.

Aside from working at Wheeler Hall, Clark also helped teach classes in the biology department his senior year and conducted research on student smoking habits.

Clark was a member of the Beta Theta Phi fraternity for two years, introduced new students as a Student Life Adviser during fall orientation and served as “Gray Dog,” one of two Saluki dog sports mascots.

Even though each trustee encounters a general orientation for the position, Clark’s past activities still did not prepare him for the workload ahead as trustee.

“There really is no job description,” Clark said. ” You are pretty much on your own; you walk into your office and get meeting minutes, computer messages, e-mails from the BOT talking about issues. There is a lot of groundwork you have to do to get up to speed.”

After reading past material and talking with representatives from different organizations and BOT members, Clark said his approach is one that is sensible and logical.

“It was my goal when I started this job to know everything about everything, learn as I was reading through the budget and minutes of the last meeting,” Clark said. ” I knew that there is a lot of stuff that would take me my entire term to learn, and by the end, I would have accomplished nothing.”

He said his approach is to understand everything that comes up during BOT meetings and school issues but choose the issues that specifically need a student voice.

“That is kind of what I did for undergraduate assistantships,” Clark said. “It happened to be the chosen topic for that meeting.”

He said he has found someone to help him out with gathering ideas from student representative bodies. He hopes this, including his general consensus of student opinion, will increase his knowledge of current issues.

“If they have an idea or something comes up to the board, I will be given that idea. We will bounce it off all representative bodies, see what they have to say about it, throw it all together in one little smooshy ball and throw it on the table at the board meeting,” Clark said.

He said the budget crisis with the tuition increase will be a big issue this coming year because the University has slated another $600 for students next year.

Clark hopes the students will come together and work out other solutions and other ideas if they disagree with the increase. He also believes the layoff situation will provoke some discussion among students and University staff as well.

Overall, Clark would like to better prepare the next student trustee for the position and help all students receive a better knowledge of the Board of Trustees.

“People think and students feel faculty on campus are not in touch with what is going on,” Clark said. “True, they are not here day in and day out, but they have do understand the way the University works.”

An old nameplate for former SIUC student Board of Trustee representative, Nathan Stone, still rests on the desk in the student trustee office.

But Ted Clark, the new BOT student trustee, did not enter into his first BOT meeting July 11 shadowed by his predecessor’s legacy He plans to leave the next trustee with the knowledge he learned from Stone and his experiences.

“You have to balance respect and admiration for leaders and leaders of the University, what is best for the University and what is best for what the students want,” Clark said. “Confidence is needed to get across your point for yourself and the students.”

Reporter Samantha Edmondson can be reached at [email protected]