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Blue Jay for Life: Mark Clapper

Dec 30th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page, People

clapper Elizabethtown College is an important institution in the Elizabethtown area.  This is the story of one resident who not only was a student at the college, but has also started a career there.

Mark Clapper is an Elizabethtown College alumnus.  He graduated in 1996.  He was recently appointed the Director of Alumni Relations at Elizabethtown College. Mark, who assumes this new position on January 1, 2010, began with the College Admissions Department and, after several promotions, became Associate Director of Alumni Relations in 2005. Originally from Somerset, PA, he currently lives in Elizabethtown with his wife Michelle.

EJ: You are a graduate of Elizabethtown College and have chosen to be employed there.  What do you find special about the college that has led you to invest so much of your life there?

MC: Since my time as a student, I have felt strongly that Elizabethtown College is a special place.  Not only is the College’s mission noble and unique within the realm of higher education, but it also delivers education in relationship-centered ways that provide opportunities for students to learn through mentoring and real-life experiences.  I find these qualities inspiring and want to do my part to help perpetuate them to future students and reinforce them with the members of the Elizabethtown College Alumni Association.  In addition, the people (students, faculty, staff and alumni) who comprise the Elizabethtown College community are wonderful with each doing their part to make the environment very friendly and “family like.”

EJ: How did you find your way to Etown from Somerset?

MC: During my college search process as a high school student at Somerset Area Senior High School, I learned about and developed and affinity for the small private liberal arts environment.  With this as my lens, I began searching for institutions that fit this mold—looking primarily in the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.  During my search process, I learned about the numerous small private liberal arts colleges throughout the central Pennsylvania region and, after visiting and taking campus tours at many places, decided to select a few to which I would submit an application for admission.  Elizabethtown College was on that list and, ultimately, granted me admission.  While my decision wasn’t made up at that time, I decided to enroll at E-town after having overnight visit experiences at each of my top three colleges.  That was the process that first led me to E-town.

EJ: As a student, what educational experiences did you value most?  What was your major?

MC: As student, I found the relationship-centered learning environment to be invaluable to my learning experience.  The faculty and staff took genuine interest in me and all of my questions, struggles and achievements.  They provided me with the mentoring that enabled my academic advancements to be wholly realized and rooted within a real-world context.  The traditional learning opportunities, as well as impromptu “teachable moments,” really stand out to me as having extra significance because of the people who took interest in me………I was an English major in the College’s Literature track and earned a minor in History.

EJ: What will be your primary responsibilities in your new position as Director of Alumni Relations?

MC: The mission of Alumni Relations is rooted in the principle of enabling and encouraging meaningful and mutually beneficial connections and engagement between members of the Elizabethtown College Alumni Association (ECAA) and Elizabethtown College’s students, faculty and staff.  Developing programming that successfully addresses this charge is where my time and effort will be directed.  Some of the major efforts that I will be leading involve local and regional alumni event programming, marketing the opportunities for alumni involvement with the College, developing alumni communication efforts and working collaboratively with fellow on-campus departments to develop alumni-related programming.  The College’s Homecoming and Family Weekend is also coordinated by the Office of Alumni Relations.

EJ: Does your position include any outreach to the local community?

MC: Not especially, although there are certainly Alumni Relations-related initiatives that have a great impact on the local community—most notably, the College’s Homecoming and Family Weekend.

EJ: EJ is  interested in the relationship of local institutions, like Elizabethtown College, with the local community-at-large.  What percent of Etown students hail from nearby areas?

MC: Unfortunately I do not know the percentage of local students currently attending, but E-town is a very popular choice for individuals throughout the region and especially for individuals in the surrounding counties.

EJ: Are there continuing education opportunities offered by the College for adult learners?

MC: The College has an outstanding Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning that features multiple locations—Elizabethtown, Harrisburg, Lancaster and York.  The program has received notoriety for having exceptional quality, friendly faculty and outstanding staff support for adult learners.

EJ: What do you like to do in your spare time?

MC: I enjoy exercising, running and sports of all kinds—especially playing tennis, racquetball, badminton and squash.  I also enjoy music, working outside and being with friends and family.

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