On February 26th, Sister Joanne Burrows announced Dr. Thom D. Chesney as the new president of Clarke University. Burrows, who has been the president of Clarke University since 2006, announced she was going to be retiring from her position in July of 2018. Her announcement sparked a nationwide search and concluded with a unanimous vote from the Board of Trustees, electing Chesney as the 16th president of the university.
According to a biography issued by Clarke University, Dr. Thom Chesney previously held the position of president at Brookhaven College of Dallas, TX. He also maintained a number of administrative positions at other surrounding universities and colleges around Texas. Among these are The University of Texas (UT) at Dallas, vice president of academic affairs and provost of Collin College, and additional faculty and administrative roles at UT Dallas, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Texas Wesleyan University, and Whitman College. Chesney earned a doctor of philosophy in English literature, a master of arts in creative writing, and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish.
His background has been a positive point of discussion among many members of the Clarke community. Some students have expressed excitement about his involvement in liberal arts programs. The press release issue by Clarke University also revealed that Chesney’s wife, Noelle, is also deeply involved in the arts—holding a doctorate of musical arts in vocal performance.
Hannah Ingles, a junior at Clarke who is currently studying Graphic Design, said, “I think his leadership has the potential to bring about some exciting opportunities for some of the arts programs at Clarke. I’m really excited to see what changes he makes in promoting programs like mine. I hope he’ll be an advocate for the fine arts—all of them.”
In Chesney’s time at Brookhaven, he attempted to encourage student enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. Additionally, according to Clarke University’s press release announcing his appointment, Chesney has also been a reliable and active member of his community. He served on the board of the Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce, which named him 2014 Citizen of the Year, and also took part in a number of other community programs.
Dr. Thom Chesney, along with his wife, Noelle, and two kids, Drew and Ellen, will be joining the Clarke community July 15th. Sister Joanne has stated that there are a few things she wants to complete before making her departure this summer, but is overall happy to pass the torch to Dr. Thom Chesney.
by Dane Shaull