Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
“The interesting thing about being a one woman office is that I am able to do a little bit of everything,” said Katie Clark. “I get to talk to alums and I get to talk to students. I order the food, but I also run interesting and engaging programs.”
Clark is the new Coordinator for the Center of Innovation and Leadership. Describing her position, Clark said “I am the CIL. I am the only person who works here.”
Clark is a graduate of Smith College and received a Masters of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. “I really love liberal arts spaces, and was drawn to Swarthmore for that reason,” Clark said. “I knew the reputation Swarthmore has, and the opportunity to be a part of a brand new center that’s just getting it’s feet on the ground is an incredible experience.”
The Center for Innovation and Leadership was implemented as a part of former President Rebecca Chopp’s strategic plan, and has been active since the Spring of 2013. The Center has worked extensively with Career Services and other pre-existing Swarthmore resources, but also has its own specific focus on supporting student entrepreneurship.
“One of my goals for this year is to to build relationships across campus,” Clark said. So far, she has been working with Career Services, The Office of Student Engagement, and Health Services, as well as various faculty members and alumni. Clark emphasized the importance of drawing from and collaborating with members of the Swarthmore community. “I’ve been here a month longer than the first-years: I’ve got a lot to learn,” she said.
Clark relies heavily on student feedback to help refine her duties, which are currently very broad in nature. “Some students want more opportunities to obtain practical skills, some students want to bring specific alums to campus.” said Clark. “But I also get a lot of students who walk into my office and go ‘what do you do here?’”
So far, she also has a served as a support system for student groups on campus. “This weekend I’m working with Race 2 Action. We’re going to spend a few hours together and work on creating some structure to help R2A become a sustainable organization,” said Clark, who developed a ‘Five Year Plan’ for the members of the group.
Clark emphasized the many ways she could potentially assist Swatties. “Students should come here if they are looking for some assistance from alums with a specific expertise. They should come here if they are looking for funding for entrepreneurial conferences. They should come to me if they have an idea for a program or activity on campus, and they don’t know where else to go.”
Given the uniqueness of the Center for Innovation and Leadership, Clark eagerly anticipates student input to help shape the center’s future. “This office has an open door policy, and I’m excited to hear from the students about how they would like to help enhance the Swarthmore experience. The more interesting, fun things we can put out, the better the Center can serve the students,” Clark said.