UT Dallas Mourns Dr. Alexander Clark, 1929-2009
Former Administrator Served as VP for Academic Affairs, Acting President
June 1, 2009
The University of Texas at Dallas mourns the passing of Dr. Alexander Clark, former vice president of academic affairs and one-time acting president of the University. Clark, 80, died Sunday morning at his home.
“Alexander Clark was an outstanding administrator of great vision with a capacity to look far into the future,” said Dr. Austin Cunningham, dean of graduate studies at the University. “He arrived in the early ’70s and undertook the daunting task of morphing a research community into a university. He understood that his vision would be carried out by people from a wide range of backgrounds and who were interested in doing interdisciplinary work. Such a novel idea, decades ahead of its time, continues to flourish today and has allowed us to attract the highest quality faculty and students. His greatest pleasure was in helping people, especially young faculty, and many of us, including myself, are forever in his debt.”
Clark joined UT Dallas as vice president for academic affairs in 1974, a post he held for 17 years. During that time — a period of remarkable growth for the University and its faculty — he was responsible for the recruitment of more than 130 faculty members, conducting as many as 550 interviews in 1975.
According to Clark, he received two assignments when he joined the University: Hire faculty, and design academic programs. Clark was particularly proud of exceptional individuals he helped bring to UT Dallas.
“At the time, a lot of talented candidates were available,” Clark said in a 1991 interview. “There were 5,000 faculty applicants for 130 positions, and we set up interviews in six cities around the country and made the circuit three times. We ended up hiring 82 percent of our first choices.”
Many of his most notable recruits are still with the University, including, among others:
- Dr. Brian J. L. Berry, dean of the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and Lloyd V. Berkner Regental Professor.
- Dr. Anthony Champagne, director of the Pre-Law Program in Undergraduate Education.
- Dr. George Fair, dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies.
- Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities.
- Dr. George McMechan, Ida M. Green Professor of Geosciences and director of the Center for Lithospheric Studies.
- Dr. Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
- Dr. Rainer Schulte, professor of Arts and Humanities; director of the Center for Translation Studies; and holder of the Katherine R. Cecil Professorship for Foreign Languages.
When it came to designing academic programs, Clark’s achievements provided the foundation for the excellence in graduate research and the quality of instruction that UT Dallas maintains to this day.
He helped create the academic organization of the University and assisted in the development of policies for numerous academic programs. In fact, during his tenure, the University greatly expanded its graduate research and graduate and undergraduate instructional efforts.
Clark briefly served as acting president of the University, from September 1981 to May 1982, between the administrations of Bryce Jordan and Robert Rutford. During that time, he secured funding for three named professorships — the Lloyd V. Berkner Professorship, the Ida M. Green Professorship and the Margaret Fonde Jonsson Professorship — as well as for five Founders Professors.
Clark, a professor of sociology and political economy, became the first executive director of the Cecil and Ida Green Center for the Study of Science and Society in 1991. There, he explored the relationship between science and issues of social policy, developed and conducted programs for visiting fellows and organized a series of distinguished public lectures.
Also, in partnership with the National Academy of Sciences, Clark brought to campus the award-winning publication Issues in Science and Technology.
Though he retired in 1997, he remained an advocate for UT Dallas in the community until his death.
“I had the privilege of running into Dr. Clark several weeks ago at our scholarship golf tournament,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. “There, he was still working on behalf of the University, something I’m told he did often. His passing is a great loss to the University community.”
Clark’s distinguished career includes teaching in sociology departments at the University of Washington and The University of Texas at Austin.
In 1966-67, he was a faculty fellow in law and sociology at the Harvard Law School. After, he served three years on the staff of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1970, he became the first associate dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at UT Austin, and he served as acting dean of the school in 1973-74.
A native of Johnshaven, Scotland, Clark received his M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford University, where he also was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. His widow is Karen Clark, director of the Deaf Education Division at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders. She oversees the Callier Child Development Program.
A memorial celebration is planned for Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the McDermott Suite of the McDermott Library.
Dr. Alexander Clark
Born: 1929 in Johnshaven, Scotland