Board member profile: Alumnus reflects on time as a student

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Board of Trustee member Patrick Clark has been highly involved with Pacific University since he was a freshman undergraduate student in 1988 and has been a member of the Board of Trustees for 10 years. Originally from Astoria, Ore., Clark graduated in 1993 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science and in Japanese Language with a minor in Business Administration. Clark was able to get a head start on his experience working with organizations during his time at Pacific when he moved to Washington D.C. to intern during his junior year at the office of Senator Mark Hatfield where he worked on projects surrounding energy and environmental policy.

Over the years, Clark has shown a dedication to not only his collegiate alma mater, but also his high school and other companies.

“I’m on several boards and I take a lot of pride in the work that I do here,” said Clark. “I also am deeply involved in my high school. I have a foundation that is very generous.”

While Clark was a student, he had the opportunity to study abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. His chance to study abroad helped boost his career after college. In 1995, following his graduation, Clark returned to Japan and worked for Nippon Steel and Sumikin Bussan Corporation and he stayed with the company in Japan for seven years. After his work in Japan, Clark moved back to Portland in 2002 where he became involved in real estate. He has been in the real estate profession ever since Through real estate, Clark is now the founding partner and principal of Realty Trust City.

During his years as a student at Pacific University Clark had a friend who was the Student Representative on the Board of Trustees. Due to his friend’s connection, Clark was able to have a better idea as to what the role of the Board of Trustees was.

“A friend of mine was a student representative and I got a little insight to what [The Board of Trustees] was,” said Clark. “But [I] quickly recognized that it is about governance and about running and organization, or setting the standards for how an organization is run.”

Currently, Clark is on the Property Committee, the Finance Committee and the Investment Committee and is Chair of the Investment Committee for Pacific University. He draws on his varied experiences to help the multiple committees make the sometimes- difficult decisions that the Board of Trustees can be faced with.

“All of us approach it with, ‘how can we contribute to the university financially or through the thought of having better governance?’” said Clark. “We have a care for the university, we went here, there are alumni and there are people who aren’t who are on the board which always impresses me because there are other motivations.”

The motivations and reasonings behind many of Clark’s decisions draw from the fact that he was a student here at Pacific, knows what it is like to be in their shoes and can draw from his experiences and memories.

“I was a student here when football was cancelled and I clearly remember why the football was cancelled, and so when it was brought up again I was very clear about here’s what didn’t work before,” said Clark. “I thought it was useful for me having lived through what it used to be and seeing what it is now, which is what we had hoped and is that it is an integral part of the university. They are good students and good guys and there’s a good coaching staff and there is the appropriate money to be able to recruit the right people.”

Many programs are able to get the initial funding to launch or to improve and continue with the help of trustees.

Clark, along with other fellow alumni board members, have the unique position of knowing not only how a university works because they were students there, but also of how other universities work through the research required to ensure that Pacific stays competitive with other universities. In order to make the right decisions that can have lasting impacts on the university, the board often looks toward those who are working and living on campus to know what is the best decision.

“The philosophy there is how do we sustain this endowment over the longer term,” said Clark. “We may have to make harder choices in the future, less of a payout to match what the market is doing. But my philosophy is that we rely heavily on the president and the senior leadership of the university to make the best decisions and to help us make recommendations or to give thoughtfulness and we bring our own experience into it from our own world.”

Although the board members are often tasked with very difficult decisions, many board members, including Clark, are very proud of the work that they are doing and are proud of the direction that the university is heading.

“We all serve with the mission in mind of we have a duty to help this university and to help the students and there are many ways to express that,” said Clark “Some people write a check because that is the way that they can contribute, lot’s of other people really dive into helping the university solve problems but it’s an honor, but we have a duty. We are duty bound to make this place better.”


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