From Drama Club to the Woodsmen Team, Clark has made a profound impact on the lives of students, faculty, and staff
In its history, Unity College has seen its fair share of eclectic characters — students, faculty, and staff — but there have been few who fit this description as well, and have left as large of an impact on the community, than Pat Clark, Professor of Oral Communication, coach of the Woodsmen Team, and faculty sponsor for the Drama Club. After 37 years at Unity College, Pat Clark is retiring at the end of this Spring semester in May, having left an impression on thousands of students over the course of her career.
“Since I came to Unity, I have always used the term ‘family,’ and that’s the way it’s always felt to me,” Pat said. “Whether it’s the faculty, the staff, the students, it felt like we were all working on the same thing all the time. I like that piece here of working together with other departments, and working together to make sure that the whole student is taken care of.”
Having earned her Master of Arts in Theatre from the University of Maine in 1979, Pat first joined the faculty in 1982 as an instructor, teaching courses including Oral Communication, Interpersonal Relations, and Introduction to Drama. Between 1985 and 2009 Pat worked her way through various faculty positions, from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor to a full-fledged Professor at Unity College, right up until her retirement this May.
“Pat Clark has been a cornerstone of this institution. She began working at Unity College when it was still just an idea,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “It was Pat’s commitment to the mission and to her students that has helped Unity College thrive and become the nationally recognized institution it is today.”
In addition to teaching students, Pat has served on many institutional and presidential committees, as the Faculty Sponsor for the Drama Club, and as the Coach of the Woodsmen’s Team after being a competition judge for a few years. One of her most proud moments, however, was being on the ground floor, so to speak, of service learning at Unity College, which is now better known as community service.
“Around 1990 there was a real push to bring service learning into the curriculum and extracurricular activities. It was something that a lot of us had been doing in our classes anyway, but now it had a name, and it was something that was not only recognized but truly encouraged at a new level,” she said. “It’s an integral part of who we are as a campus, which is good because we’re talking about putting out environmental leaders, they have to know how to work with the community and other organizations. That’s important.”
“Pat Clark is truly one of a kind,” said Ethan Parker, a Parks and Forest Resources major who is president of Unity College’s Drama Club. “She is a beloved and valued member of our community. Her work as the advisor to the Drama Club has helped the club continue to evolve over the years. Whether casting the show, appearing on stage, or storing props at her own house, she leads with her love of theater. Pat’s enthusiasm for theater extends beyond the college. Her relationship with area schools has enabled her acting class to perform for an audience outside of the college campus, allowing her actors to share their love of performing with the local community in Maine.”
“I have had the pleasure of getting to know Pat Clark over my four years here at Unity College. Pat has been a mentor, role model, and most importantly a friend,” added Will Reinsborough, a Conservation Law Enforcement student and President of the Woodsmen’s Team. “I first met her through the Woodsmen Team. I remember one of my first practices Pat came down to introduce herself to the new members of the team. As soon as she came into the shed, everyone that knew her lit up. Almost in unison, the entire team said, ‘Hello Pat!’ That in itself showed me how important Pat is to everyone she knows.”
Pat’s influence, however, spans decades, leaving a lasting impression on many of her first students, many of whom she stays in contact with to this day. “To the extent that she was one of my professors and college faculty, I always considered Pat Clark one of my longest-running friends from Unity, dating back to my first year there in 1985,” said Andy Wendell, who now produces The General Store Variety Show on WRFA FM and works as a Senior Chemist and QA Officer at ClearWater Lab in Newport, Maine. “For those of us who did participate in Drama Club, Pat would find a way to pull us through our projects with limited resources and support – always with her characteristic patient cheerfulness.”
“Over the years, I have had the pleasure of meeting many faculty members, but few with the dedication and versatility as Pat Clark,” said Dr. Khoury. “In watching Pat transition effortlessly between her academic work in the classroom, advising the Woodsmen Team, and working with the Drama Club, I find it remarkable how willing she has been over the years to meet students where they are, and bring them along from freshman to responsible citizens. Her dedication to her students, to Unity College, and to the community has made her absolutely irreplaceable, and I thank her for contributing so much over the years and making a significant difference in the lives of thousands of students.”
So, what’s next for Pat? Everyone she knows keeps asking her this question, and they’ve also warned her that retirement life can actually be busier than working full-time. But Pat isn’t worried about that, considering how full her plate has become over the years working with various organizations both at Unity College and within the community. “I don’t have any big plans,” she said. “It’s more just catching up on all the stuff I always want to do! I want to go to more movies, perhaps some more film festivals, and spend time with my grandchildren.”