University of Stirling Secretary Kevin Clarke retired on 30 March after 17 years of service.
A special gathering was held to mark the occasion where Mr Clarke was presented with a painting by artist Philip Hughes and he was told about the establishment of the Kevin Clarke Prize, an award which will be presented to a student at the November Graduation Ceremony.
As University Secretary, Kevin attended over 120 ceremonies and handed out 26,000 degree certificates. The Prize Fund is a fitting tribute to him and one which colleagues and friends are invited to contribute to.
Mr Clarke joined the University as Secretary in 1995, a role which involved overseeing all support services operations including HR, estates, finance, corporate communications and student support. He was also in charge of graduations for thousands of students over the years, a role which has brought him “great joy”.
Securing the job at Stirling brought the Secretary’s life full circle as he is a Stirling philosophy graduate who also met his wife Linda (who was also a student) in the Pathfoot coffee lounge in 1970. Mr Clarke said: “Never for a moment when I graduated in the Albert Halls in 1974 did I think I would be back 21 years later handing out the degrees to other students. It was a very different Stirling from that I had left behind. It was the scale of the change that I noticed – it was much larger than before.”
Mr Clarke contributed to many of the major strategic developments at the University in recent years, such as securing funding for the refurbishment of the Macrobert Arts Centre and helping to turn Stirling into Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. He regards both developments as career highlights.
He said: “I have had the support of a tremendous team and I can look back with great satisfaction at what has been achieved, and I am very proud of the University. The University has a world-class setting and it was wonderful to be in post when we celebrated our 40th Anniversary in 2011.
“I have greatly enjoyed my time here and I will miss the people of the University over and above everything else. As Secretary you are usually viewed as the head of a faceless bureaucracy, but the culture of Stirling means that you can deal with people at a human level – it isn’t just a machine with cogs, it’s about transforming the lives of people through education.”
Principal Gerry McCormac said: “I’ve greatly enjoyed working with Kevin over the last two years. In that time I have benefited from his wisdom and observed his humanity, both of which have contributed to the culture in the University that has enriched the lives of everyone who has worked and studied here. We wish him all the best in his retirement. Kevin has served the University with integrity and passion and will be missed by all.”
Mr Clarke will not be easing into his retirement gently. He and his wife plan to cycle 1100 miles across the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (’Way of St James’) - a medieval pilgrimage route through France and Spain which crosses several mountain ranges - to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association later this year.
He would also like to attend some international music festivals, another passion which began at Stirling. He added: “When I arrived as a student I listened to pop and rock and a fellow student introduced me to the world of classical music – that’s when I heard Bach and Mozart for the first time; that’s when my lifetime passion for classical music began.
“I have so much to thank the University for.”
Notes for editor:
During his term of office, Mr Clarke served on a number of Scottish and UK bodies, including a role as Convenor of the Universities Scotland Secretaries Group and Deputy Chair of the Association of Heads of Universities Administration.
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