A local businessman and longtime Crowder College Foundation member was recognized recently for his years of service to the foundation and the college.

Fred Clark, who has spent 50 years on the Crowder Foundation board, was honored by Crowder’s interim president Dr. Kent Farnsworth at the foundation’s annual scholarship banquet.

“When foundation board members think about Fred and his service, the word that always comes up is scholarships,” Farnsworth said. “Fred has chaired the scholarship committee for years and there is no stronger supporter for our scholarship program and for aid for students than Fred Clark.”

Clark said he was surprised by the special recognition, and said he considers himself the lucky one to work with Crowder College.

“People that work at Crowder are special people,” Clark said. “They’ve all made it possible for me to be a part of this and I feel very privileged to be a part of the Crowder community on the foundation board.”

Clark’s involvement with Crowder College began before the college had officially been established.

He was among those who traveled to Jefferson City to lobby for legislation which made the establishment of community colleges, then known as junior colleges, possible.

When it came time to pass a levy allowing the funding of the new college, Clark also worked to help get the ballot initiative passed.

Clark said his long-time dedication to Crowder comes from a desire to help local residents have the opportunity to receive an education.

“It’s been most gratifying when someone would write you a letter saying how their quality of life has increased so much,” Clark said.

Clark said with approximately 200 students to start with, it was difficult to imagine Crowder growing to the size it is today, with a recent record fall enrollment of 5,845 students.

“I remember I was sitting there one day during a foundation board meeting and I said ‘you know, someday it would be nice to have lots of money, we’ve got $5,000 now.’ Now we’re managing about $4 million. That’s for buildings, for improvements to the college, just any college needs, we try to meet them at the foundation.”

Clark was also a member of the group that helped to establish the Crowder Foundation.

He was elected to the initial board for the past 50 years and has served in several positions on the board, including as president.

In addition to Clark’s commitment to the Crowder Foundation Board, Farnsworth also noted Clark’s financial contributions to the students of Crowder College.

“Fred and Sue and their family have been among our most generous supporters over the years,” Farnsworth said. “We see evidence of that each time we enter the Farber Building and see that great picture of the two of them.”  

Clark said his late wife, Sue, was very encouraging of his work with the Crowder Foundation, and among his Crowder scholarships is one in her name.

“Crowder College is privileged to have such an advocate for student scholarships,” the college said in a news release. “The dedication Clark has shown over the past 50 years has been instrumental in making the Crowder Foundation what it is today.”