The Bacon, the most reliable and relevant news source, has conducted an exclusive interview with the current outgoing President of Palm Beach Atlantic University, Dr. David W. Clark. We appreciate his cooperation on this project.
The Bacon: What has been your greatest accomplishment at PBA?
Dr. David W. Clark: In a sense, I have not really accomplished anything on my own here. I would hope that I helped move the school forward in being a place where rigorous learning and critical thinking is encouraged within a matrix of an evangelical university community. The good Lord has continued to bless PBA in the past 6 years as in the past 40 years. This university is a fairly complex organization with many contributing individuals. They are the ones why deserve the credit for whatever good has happened in the past six years. I realized again when I taught last semester that teaching is hard work. We have an outstanding and truly committed and engaged faculty. Every survey we take of students indicates that our faculty and access to our faculty is our strongest asset. Likewise we have a wonderful staff who totally involved with our students but really our greatest asset is our students.
Whenever I pat a student on the back (and I do that a lot) I know that I am literally touching the future. I love our students and I think it shows. I hope it does. After this spring commencement, I will have had the honor to award degrees to 4,000 of our 10,000 total alumni.
Bacon: What has been your greatest failure at PBA? What would you have done differently?
Dr. Clark: That is a difficult question because leading a school like PBA is more art than science. Of course you make mistakes and some decisions that you later question. I certainly have said things I wish I had never said. The decisions you think most about and lose the most sleep about are personnel decisions. A few of these I might handle differently if I could do them over.
I had hoped to have the Hillcrest campus all completed before I retired, but because of the economy that has been delayed until the university’s 60 acres on Southern Blvd sell. That could take awhile, but it is a very valuable piece of land and will sell soon. I believe and it will transform how we see our school and how others see us. This is a facility for the entire student body not just athletes.
Bacon: Why did you come to PBA?
Dr. Clark: I went to Northern Baptist Seminary and then was a pastor for several years. I became interested in rhetorical theory because of my need to prepare effective sermons three times a week. That led me to attend the University of Iowa to complete a PhD in rhetoric and communication theory. I taught at Iowa, Bowling Green State University, Regent University and Fuller Seminary as an adjunct. I really like teaching, but somehow I always got pulled into administration. Perhaps that suggests I may have some gifts in this area or that no one other faculty were interested.
My other great passion in life has been broadcasting and I have had the opportunity to have a great deal of professional experience in radio and television. I was president of FamilyNet in Fort Worth, a commercial cable television network before I came here. We produced hundreds of hours of daily programming as well as a number of award winning documentaries for ABC, NBC and the Hallmark Network. It was work that I loved. But I have always loved the academy.
A friend mentioned PBA was looking for a president. My wife, Lois urged me to investigate. I knew little about the school, so I called Jess Moody. He made it sound like the most important Christian university in America. I also spoke with my pastor, Jack Graham, who had been the pastor at First Baptist here. He was more candid but did note the growth and great potential of the university. After a number of calls from the search firm and late in the selection process, I agreed to become a candidate providing that my application was kept confidential. Somehow I emerged as the candidate of choice. I know now this was God’s plan for this period in my life.