Clark inaugurated as Wesley College’s 17th president

003 Wesley College president Robert E. Clark II chats with Gov. Jack Markell before Wednesday's inauguration ceremony in Dover. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Wesley College president Robert E. Clark II, right, chats with Gov. Jack Markell before Wednesday’s inauguration ceremony in Dover. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — Wesley College’s new president said he doesn’t look at his position as a job, but as a true calling

“I’m very humbled by everyone’s greeting and kind words,” Robert E. Clark II said during his inauguration speech Wednesday afternoon. “I’m very appreciative of the formal recognition, responsibility, trust and accountability bestowed upon me, but it’s about reflection and celebration as a family.”

The ceremony was held at the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover as the college celebrated its Founders Week.

The college was founded in 1873 as a preparatory school. The college has a covenant relationship with the United Methodist Church.

It offers 30 bachelors, four associate’s and master’s degrees in nursing, education, business administration and environmental science in a multi-denominational, multi-cultural campus setting.

The 17th president of Wesley College, Robert E. Clark II, was inaugurated Wednesday evening inside the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover with hundreds of faculty, students, alumni, family and friends. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

The 17th president of Wesley College, Robert E. Clark II, was inaugurated Wednesday evening inside the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover with hundreds of faculty, students, alumni, family and friends. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Mr. Clark became the 17th president of Wesley College last July 15, after 32 years of service in the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Force.

He said he wanted to understand the students, faculty and community before he had his official inauguration.

“I have a vision, but how short sighted of me would it be to show up in a couple of days, get in front of everyone and give a vision that I would change in a few months without having a clue,” he asked.

“Before I got the family together I want to meet and understand our community, collective dream and culture.”

Mr. Clark served as commodore of Submarine Squadron Four, commanding officer of the nuclear-powered submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) and executive assistant to the vice chief of Naval Operations.

Most recently, he served as the joint service coordinator at the Pennsylvania State University.

Prior to the Penn State posting, Mr. Clark served as the 84th commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy from April 2010 until May 2013, becoming the longest-standing commandant in the Naval Academy’s history.

Mr. Clark said he was drawn to Wesley because it was “a small, passionate, tight-knit and very, very dedicated family,” where faculty members know students by name.

“We were attracted to the heart and soul of the city,” Mr. Clark said.

Students, faculty, community members offered a few words about the impact that Mr. Clark has had on the college.

“The city offers our congratulations to him,” said City Council President Timothy Slavin. “Since 1873 Wesley College and the city of Dover has partnered on a single shared mission to make our community better.

“Your success has been our success and our success has been yours as well,” he added.

Wesley College president Robert E. Clark II descends the staircase inside the Schwartz Center Wednesday evening as he walks the processional during his inauguration as the school's 17th president.

Wesley College president Robert E. Clark II descends the staircase inside the Schwartz Center Wednesday evening as he walks the processional during his inauguration as the school’s 17th president.

“We pledge to you President Clark the same willingness and enthusiasm and perseverance that Wesley has bought to this partnership every single day. We look forward to being your partner.”

Gov. Jack Markell said the college has a bright future.

“I firmly believe the search committee hit a grand slam,” Gov. Markell said. “We need institutions like Wesley to participate and do a great job when it comes to helping people achieve their potential.

“It’s such a proud legacy here,” he added.

“I’m very optimistic of the future. You had a solid ground to build on and it only gets better from here with the leadership of President Clark.”

Mr. Clark said he sees more opportunities for growth and potential at the college. There are plans for future student services center, and a master’s occupational therapy program is set to start in fall 2016.

The program will be the only one in the region.

“It’s a very critical need for our state and region,” Mr. Clark said. “There are some occupational therapists in Delaware and there is a need for twice as many more.

“The closest educational facility to provide that opportunity is a state away we will bring that to Delaware.”

Mr. Clark said everyone has to continue to work together to achieve college’s goals.

“Our collective potential and future is bright,” Mr. Clark said. “It’s about sharing the excitement as to what our future holds together as we move forward as a family.”

Wesley College president Robert E. Clark II, second from left, stands with past presidents, from left, Dr. William Johnston (2008-2015); Dr. Jervis Cooke (1977-1983) and Dr. Scott Miller (1997-2008)

Wesley College president Robert E. Clark II, second from left, stands with past presidents, from left, Dr. William Johnston (2008-2015); Dr. Jervis Cooke (1977-1983) and Dr. Scott Miller (1997-2008)

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