Clark Summer Research Program canceled amid COVID-19 concerns

Anjali Venna
News Editor

The Clark Summer Research Program has been canceled due to COVID-19. However, students who applied this year will be able to apply the following year. 

The program allows a group of incoming freshmen to participate in research groups the summer before their first year. Approximately 70 students are chosen, and many of them reside in University Commons for the duration of the program. Dean of the Honors College Edward Harpham said without available housing for students and with the uncertain status of labs, the program can’t run. 

“We plan to offer the Clark program next summer. Students who have applied this year will be encouraged to apply again, and beyond that we haven’t established the rules because we just don’t know the constraints,” Harpham said.

The deadline to apply was March 1, but no applicants were accepted this year. 

“We’ve known since really early February that this was coming, so I was expecting we would have to be making decisions about this so we delayed our decisions,” Harpham said. “This is with the approval of Dr. Musselman, the president, and the head of research. This wasn’t (me) making a decision, it was at the highest levels.”

Additionally, this year’s chosen Clark Peer Advisors, who guide the students living on campus, were informed of the program’s cancellation on April 1. Computer science freshman Willie Chalmers III, who participated in the program last summer, said he wanted to be a PA because he wanted to introduce freshmen to the campus and create a sense of community that his advisors did for him. 

“I attribute a lot of my current successes during freshman year to Clark in terms of creating a good social network of friends to fall back on and sort of introducing me to campus,” Chalmers said. 

The amount of participants next year may increase, but this depends on funding, much of which is derived from the Clark Foundation and an endowment set up for undergraduate research by late Dallas philanthropist Margaret McDermott.

“Let’s say we get the money, I think we can increase it. Let’s say we get the money we didn’t use this year too, I know we can increase it, so it just depends how much money is available,” Harpham said. “I am encouraged to think that I will have it which will be very exciting, but you never know.”

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