Dillard Today Magazine
DR. GARY M. CLARK: MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE FOR HIS STUDENTS AND THE COMMUNITY
Written by Rachel Graham | Photography by Norward Sears
From the radio to the television, and in front of the classroom, Gary M. Clark’s objective of empowering others remains unwavering. He’s spent 27 years at Dillard University, where he is the Barron Hilton Endowed Professor in Political Science and director of the Dillard University Center for Law and Public Interest. In April, he was a panelist for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ATF’S 2017 Diversity and Career Impact Program Business Meeting. He’s working with the bureau to create a pipeline for Dillard graduates to join the organization, which is seeking to diversify and replenish its aging workforce. Last month, he traveled to San Francisco for the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies, and he serves as the secretary/treasure of The Finance Authority of New Orleans, where they help people buy homes.
“No one walks away from us unhappy–our money is below prime.” On his weekly radio show, Dr. Clark’s Living Classroom, he covers topics ranging from community and financial literacy to religion, and for him, it all relates to politics.
“My college political science professor once told me, ‘every time is a great time to be student of politics’,” recounts Gary M. Clark, Ph.D. On the heels of one of the most storied presidential campaigns in U.S. history, and as the City of New Orleans prepares for what could be a landmark municipal election, that sentiment has even greater relevance.
As the Revius O. Ortique, Jr. Endowed Chair for Politics and Social Thought, Dr. Clark strives to instill a respect for social responsibility that will stay with students beyond their time in Fair Dillard’s hallowed halls. One part of The Center for Law and Public Interest’s dual track provides students interested in the legal arena with support to resulting a rich pipeline for law schools. With the assistance of Pre-Law Advisor Adria Kimbrough, the Center provides LSAT preparation, undergraduate research opportunities, and internships. The Center's Justice Revius Ortique, Jr. Mock Trial Courtroom provides trial advocacy training and simulation and attracts noted legal practitioners and social justice advocates. It has also hosted mock trial competitions and preparation, and in February, it was the site for oral arguments by the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Center’s Public Interest arm lets students explore civic engagement in the political process both at home and abroad. Project Pericles, a program based in New York, teaches them how to engage the community, be effective lobbyists, and impact key decision makers. They also learn the importance of global politics through participation with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, DC. At the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, students are trained in community organizing and issue identification.
“Simply put, my professional goal has always been to help individuals’ dreams come
true," says Dr. Clark. He is a well on his way to doing that for both the students
he teaches and the community he serves as he leads the Center in its mission to help
students understand their role in improving politics.