Center Renaming Brings Together Family, Friends of Man Who Laid University’s Academic Foundation
Nov. 8, 2011
President David E. Daniel joins the Clark family in unveiling a plaque that designates the former Conference Center as the Alexander L. Clark Center.
When it came time to unveil a plaque rededicating the Alexander L. Clark Center, the smallest member of his family, 8-year-old granddaughter Anna Clark, wanted to make sure the banner was pulled from the bottom since she was too short to lift it overhead.
And so set the tone for a ceremony filled with moments both reverent and light as the former Conference Center was formally renamed Monday in honor of Dr. Clark’s 17 years of service to the University.
Clark, who died in 2009, was vice president for academic affairs and a one-time acting president of UT Dallas. He is credited with laying the foundation for the University’s successful academic programs and prominence as a research institution.
“Dr. Clark set the tone for excellence in academics that carries through to this day,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel.
“Dr. Clark set the tone for excellence in academics that carries through to this day,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. “This new name is meant to be a reminder of the quality that he embodied.”
Daniel’s remarks were followed by words from Clark’s widow, Karen, who is the director of the Deaf Education Division at UT Dallas’ Callier Center for Communication Disorders.
“Today is a happy day for me and for all of Alex’s family,” she said. “Alex had a varied and interesting professional life. And outside of his children and grandchildren, I am very sure that the legacy he was most proud of was his work in building the academic programs here at UT Dallas.”
The lobby of the newly renamed center buzzed with about 60 family and friends of Clark. Some of those present included Clark’s sister, his sons and daughter, and several grandchildren. Current and former staffers on hand included UT Dallas President Emeritus Dr. Robert Rutford. Another former colleague, Victor Worsfold, wore a kilt in honor of Clark's Scottish roots.
When asked for a show of those who had been hired by Clark, about 15 from among the crowd raised their hands.
“Alex understood what quality in a university was all about,” said Victor Worsfold, who worked alongside Clark in Undergraduate Studies. Worsfold, a fellow Scot, donned a kilt for the renaming ceremony in honor of Clark.
According to Daniel, the name change idea originated with two of Clark’s biggest fans: longtime staffers Judy Snellings and Judi Hensley Hamby, both of whom had worked closely with Clark at UT Dallas.
“I think Dr. Clark would be completely humbled with this day,” said Hamby, who is now retired from the University. “He would be pleased that the University thought so well of him. He wanted to bring people here and give them the resources to succeed, and I think that’s what this building is all about.”
Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and one of Clark’s hires, echoed their sentiments.
“It was a very wise decision to rename the center,” Kratz said. “He was one of the most formidable people I have ever met. I couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic supporter to make arts part of the life of UT Dallas. Alex was a great mentor. He was a great, great man.”
Mrs. Clark said her husband was forever passionate about UT Dallas.
“This is such a great building,” she said. “It has housed so many different activities – from classes, which are ongoing even as we speak, to special programs."
Clark was a native of Johnshaven, Scotland, and held two degrees in sociology from Stanford University, where he also was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. Before joining UT Dallas in 1974, he taught at UT Austin and the University of Washington, and was a faculty fellow in law and sociology at Harvard Law School. He also served on the staff of the National Academy of Sciences and was an acting dean of the LBJ School for Public Affairs at UT Austin.
“I think the ultimate test of a person’s service to an institution is to reflect on the impact they had while there,” Daniel said. “And wow, did Dr. Clark ever leave this University better than he found it.”
“Today is a happy day for me and for all of Alex’s family,” said Karen Clark, who said her husband would have been proud to have the building renamed for him. (Read More)
The idea to rename the center came from two of Dr. Clark’s biggest fans: Judy Snellings (left) and Judi Hensley Hamby, both of whom worked closely with Clark.
Other Campus Buildings Renamed
In addition to the renaming of the Alexander Clark Center, other campus facilities received new assignments this year. The twin Residence Halls South and North, formerly Residence Halls 1 and 2, respectively, were renamed during the summer.
In addition, the former Multipurpose and Administration Buildings are now known together as simply the Administration Building. Room numbers and mail addresses are in the process of being altered to reflect the name change.
“With the transformation and growth of the campus comes the need to add clarity to facility names and enhance way finding,” Dr. Calvin Jamison, senior vice president for Business Affairs, said.