Clark, a longtime professor of Portuguese and the academic coordinator for the Carolina Covenant program, will retain his position with the Covenant despite his retirement from teaching.
Shirley Ort, associate provost director for the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, was relieved Clark would remain on the Covenant team. “I just couldn’t imagine doing this without him,” she said.
Clark, originally recruited by Ort, has been involved with the program since its start 10 years ago. Carolina Covenant is a program that allows students from low-income families to graduate debt-free, and Ort said Clark has played a crucial role in the program’s success.
“He knew exactly what types of programs to plug in to ensure student success,” she said. “But what I also got in (Clark) was a deep passion and care for students.”
Ort said Clark’s main responsibilities are academic support services, personal student enrichment and coordination with faculty and staff to keep them engaged with students. He takes a deep interest in the well-being of students, providing Covenant Scholars and their parents with his personal cell phone number.
Senior Rodrigo Martinez said this support was crucial during his first semester at Carolina. As the first in his family to go to college in the United States, Martinez was overwhelmed and didn’t know what to expect.
“Initially, it’s really difficult to ask for help and recognize you need help,” he said. “(He) does a really good job of making sure that you know there are so many opportunities here and so many ways to get help and that you’re not alone.”
Class of 2014 alumna Maria Godoy said Clark helped make her transition as a transfer student easier.
“When I came to Carolina, he was very supportive, and we could go and talk with him about anything,” she said. “He was always there, asking us how we were doing, how our classes were going.”
One of Ort’s favorite moments with Clark is when they walk to lunch together and seeing the extent of his influence on campus.
“It’s like walking with a television celebrity or a politician because everyone comes up and knows him,” she said. “It takes a long time to get from one place to another because people are always stopping to chat.”
Clark provides students with a great deal of academic support, too. Godoy said that when she made changes to her academic plans, he was there to make sure she was on track.
“When I decided to change my major, he was very supportive,” she said. “And if I had problems with classes, he would give me advice and connect me to the resources I needed.”
Martinez said Clark has been a positive figure in all areas of his UNC experience.
“He’s someone that’s really genuinely happy to see you and very happy and excited to know that you’re doing well and accomplishing what you want to accomplish.”
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