On Tuesday, Salisbury University held a special event at the school’s Honors House to announce that donors Glenda Chatham and Robert G. Clarke had presented the university with a planned endowment of $1.5 million for the university’s Honors College.
In turn, SU revealed its plans to rename its Honors College in dedication to its new donors: the Glenda Chatham and Robert G. Clarke Honors College.
The Clarke Honors College is now among the likes of the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts, Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology, and Samuel W. and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education as the university’s fifth endowed academic branch.
The Clarkes’ continued support and investment is not limited to just the Clarke Honors College endowment, however, as other philanthropic contributions include a $300,000 donation for the Nina Dixon and Grover F. Chatham Scholarship of Salisbury University, aiming to bring more of Glenda’s future fellow James M. Bennett High School graduates the college experience she once delighted in.
According to the couple, their journey together was sparked by their many similarities upon arrival to Salisbury University in 1968. Having met in registration lines arranged by last name, Glenda Chatham and Robert G. Clarke appear to have been brought together by fate. The two were both commuters as well as first-generation college students, which only added to their encounters.
Glenda Chatham, a former English teacher and reading specialist, and Robert G. Clarke, a former chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges, have spent decades bettering the lives of students in across the country.
“Both of [the Clarkes] are educators, they’re passionate people, and they’re … good people that want to see the world evolve and want to see us talk about citizenship and what it means to be a global citizen, as well as giving back to one’s community,” said Dr. Andrew Martino, dean of the Clarke Honors College. “The Clarkes are the perfect partnership in my mind [for SU].”
On why the couple decided to pursue an endowment, Robert G. Clarke conveyed that they, “wanted to have something long-lasting, something that will be there long after [they're] gone … [the students] are the future of our country, and we want to make sure that they have all the advantages they possibly can.”
SU President Charles Wight furthered the idea that the endowment will provide unimaginable growth for the campus community in the years to come.
“[The Clarkes’] generosity will impact the lives of our students in ways they and we are unable to predict.”
Current Honors students such as Jack Lenox are immensely appreciative of donors such as the Clarkes actively supporting and believing in the potential contributions that honors students can make for society in the future.
“It’s really important that donors or alumni are able to give back to the school because without that generosity and kindness, students like myself wouldn’t be able to explore the impact that we can have … and see ourselves through to our success.”
“SU is an integral part of this community, and by supporting SU, President Wight, Dean Martino and others’ efforts ... [donors can] set the foundation for the future,” said Robert G. Clarke.
The Clarke Honors College will continue to encompass its three programs — Bellavance, Business and Henson — as the honors community continues to grow and diversify among students interested in a multitude of fields in the coming years.
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image: Salisbury University Public Relations Office.