When Professor of Humanities Al Clark is not teaching, he is either researching for his book, interviewing for an oral history project or inspiring others to donate blood. Clark first entered the University to teach in 1976 and then became a full-time administrator in 1978, holding the position of associate vice president for academic affairs until Sept. 1.
After spending the last 18 months teaching others his administrative duties, he is now teaching students full time.
“I have taught all my life and this is my 41st year of teaching,” Clark said.
Clark is currently teaching humanities and history courses in addition to honors colloquium, which he previously taught as well. In his faculty position, Clark hopes he can allocate more time to finishing “Water, Watershed, and Warming,” a book on water supply and sustainability he has worked on for the past two decades.
“Part of the responsibility of a teacher is to research and write (because) we believe very strongly in the moral of a scholar-teacher,” Clark said.
“Now it doesn’t matter to anyone except for me whether I finish the book or not. That means I need to motivate myself.”
Clark wrote about this subject as his senior thesis for his bachelor’s degree at Cal Poly Pomona in 1968. His first published article on this subject was in the June 1970 issue of the Southern California Quarterly. He also discussed this topic and his book in a faculty lecture in April.
Clark is also working on an oral history project by interviewing people who know about the watershed and also important figures involved with the University’s history. He already interviewed more than 20 people, including many former professors and former deans. All his interviews were face-to-face, with many held outside of California. Clark recorded and transcribed the interviews and he now has over 40 gigabytes of recordings.
They will go into the University archives.
“I’m enjoying it immensely; I like talking to people,” Clark said.
“It’s on what real people did and lived, but if you don’t get it down, it’ll be gone. I want to capture people’s lives. It’s these little things that are most fun and make people, well, real.”
Clark is also an advocate for donating blood. He started the first blood drive on campus more than seven years ago, and he is also a part of the “56 Days Club,” which consists of many blood donors at the University.
The name comes from the fact that a healthy person can donate blood once every 56 days.
“What happened was we had a faculty retreat and there were two of us, Dr. Issam Ghazzawi and I, and we asked one of the presenters from Red Cross if they would come to La Verne every 56 days (to hold a blood drive) and they said they would,” Clark said.
Clark first started donating blood nearly 50 years ago in his teenage years because his parents also donated on a regular basis.
“It’s virtually painless, and you know it goes to someone,” Clark said. “If you donate money, it may go to the salary of a director, but if you donate blood, you know for sure it helps someone.”
“I would say that most people can donate blood easily without much pain or difficulties,” Clark said. “You should try it and if it works for you, then hopefully you can come back again. The actual amount of people that can donate is very small.”
The University’s fall blood drives will be on Oct. 1 and Dec. 3 in the President’s Dining Room. Clark is also the study abroad director, Washington Center Adviser, the main sponsor for Alpha Chi National Honor Society and a sponsor for the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.
“I always see him and he always converses with students. He is really involved with the school too,” Guadalupe Robles, sophomore Spanish and creative writing major and a student worker in the honors center, said.
Despite his many achievements, Clark cites a personal event as the happiest news this year – the birth of his two grandsons, Leo and Sebastian, to his two daughters this past summer. He is also happily married to his wife Rebecca and they have three children.
“Dr. Clark enjoys going to school events and is always eager to learn something new,” Mark Batacan, junior accounting major and honors program student, said.
“He is also very personable as students are very comfortable in approaching him. Moreover, his vast knowledge of the various arts and humanities is unmatched, and he spreads his wealth of knowledge to his students.”
“He stimulates the students’ discussions with thought-invoking ideas and other perspectives that we typically do not think about,” Batacan said.
“He is a professor that wants to help students build a foundation in their education, through learning from various types of arts.” Sean Bernard, associate professor of creative writing, also admires Clark’s dedication to the University.
“Everyone knows that Dr. Clark is our greatest model of dedication at the University,” Bernard said.
“He is everywhere on this campus and is one of the greatest resources for anyone. His efforts on behalf of part-time faculty, the Red Cross and in bringing faculty research to greater light have been entirely wonderful and generous.”
Bernard sees Clark on daily basis as his office is right next to Clark’s in the honors center.
“It’s been great to see a side of Al that many people catch only in glimpses – how cheerfully lighthearted, even silly, he can be,” Bernard said.
“In my going on nine years at La Verne, it’s easy to say that Dr. Clark is one of five people who embodies both the spirit and the mission of ULV at its very finest, and that he does it with such youthful energy is even more impressive.”
Cody Luk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.