A role model retires

Carolyn Clark’s career has been marked from the beginning by leadership and risk taking. Graduating from a rural high school where 20 percent of the students went on to college, she headed to an Ivy League school. Then, out of 300 students in her Ph.D. program, she was one of only three women in a discipline dominated by men. Little wonder that in time she became the first woman to chair the WSU Faculty Senate.

Ask Clark, Washington director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and associate professor of economics, what makes her proudest, though, and she speaks of the students she has mentored over the years.

Most recently, for example, two of her former economics Ph.D. students have been in the news for their accomplishments: Arun Raha (1991) was named on Jan. 3 by the Wall Street Journal as the top business forecaster in corporate America, and Jeung-lak Lee (1993) is said to be in line to become the next chief executive at Korea’s largest commercial bank. They are among many graduates who stay in touch with Clark.

An award-winning teacher of macro and monetary economics, Clark says she highly values her accomplishments as a teacher, a career which she says enabled her to “make a difference in the lives of students during their time at the university, and perhaps to contribute to their future success in the business world and public sector.”

Clark retires this month following more than three decades of service to the state, the university and its students.

“Carolyn Clark has had a tremendous impact on literally thousands of people in Washington and beyond during her career,” says WSU President V. Lane Rawlins, who was her colleague when he, too, was a WSU economics professor.

“She received numerous awards for teaching, forged new paths and served as a role model for women in the field of education, championed the cause of faculty to the state legislature, and most recently took the state’s SBDC to new levels.”

Clark joined the faculty of the WSU Department of Economics (now the School of Economic Sciences) in 1973, having earned her bachelor of arts degree from Wellesley College and her Ph.D. in economics/monetary economics from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2003, she received the WSU Association of Faculty Women’s Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award, celebrating those who advance the cause of women at WSU through their leadership.

As WSU faculty representative to the state Legislature (1994-99), she was instrumental in increasing faculty pay levels approximately 20 percent over three biennia. She also led the Council of Faculty Representatives (1997-99).

In 1999, Clark moved to Spokane to head the state SBDC. Affiliated with the WSU College of Business and Economics, the SBDC has annual funding of $3.3 million ($1.65 million each from the federal government and from universities and colleges around the state). Its network of 27 business counseling and training centers in Washington is known nationally for its innovative use of Internet technology that links counselors with business owners.

In 2004 under Clark’s leadership, SBDC network counselors helped clients create or save nearly 2,300 jobs and access more than $76.9 million in capital funding. Former Gov. Gary Locke appointed Clark to his Council of Economic Advisors (2001) and she was an ex-officio member of the Governor’s Small Business Improvement Council (1999-2002).

“The contributions made by Carolyn during her many years at WSU, at the SBDC and in the business college and the economics program will be felt for years to come,” says CBE Dean Len Jessup.

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