UVF Business Department Chair Retires

by Sarah Cushing & Melea Fowler - University Communications | May 26, 2017

ClarksonBill2After six years of shaping the Department of Business Administration and its students, Professor William (Bill) Clarkson, Ph.D., is retiring from educating undergraduate students on economics and business policy. He will return to his hometown in Michigan where his next steps will be grounded on two qualifications: passion and impact.

He could admit he was nervous about teaching undergraduate students for the first time. He could even admit he wasn't sure how he could make economics and business policy relevant to eighteen-year-olds. But he was certain God had led him to the University of Valley Forge (UVF). So Professor Bill Clarkson, Ph.D., took on the role of Department of Business chair in 2011 believing that if God got him here, He would see him through. This April, as he taught his last classes and packed his office belongings, Clarkson reflected on his time at UVF and looked ahead in anticipation of his next adventure in retirement. 

Clarkson is a firm believer that God calls all those whom he saves to spread the gospel — no matter their career field. This has been evident in his own life, as his career shifted from working as assistant city manager in Michigan and adjunct professor at Central Michigan University, to a preschool and children’s pastor, and then as a professor and department chair at UVF.

Teaching Style and Methods 
Early on, Clarkson decided to structure his classes based on his academic and professional experience. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from Muhlenberg College, a Master of Public Administration in Local Government Administration from Ball State University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Administration from Trinity Theological Seminary. For 20 years he worked in various local government positions in Michigan. His last position there was as assistant city manager for the city of Midland. Then, God called him to the church where he served as a preschool pastor and then a children’s pastor for 16 years. Six years ago, God opened the doors for Clarkson to start a third career here at UVF. 

Clarkson’s time as a children’s pastor influenced how he taught students at UVF. He designed his classes to appeal to all learning styles — visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Active learning sequences, case studies, simulations, and problem-solving discussions were some of the tools Clarkson used to engage students in his classes. Each course equipped students to be critical and strategic thinkers and strengthened their presentation skills. Clarkson also used current news and events to make the subject matter relevant. 

Clarkson in the Classroom
Clarkson explained that much of his experience teaching children Bible lessons influenced the way he educated college students: by figuring out what to do to keep students active and engaged in the lesson. He was never content to let students learn only from a textbook or by lecturing for an hour; instead, his goal was to engage students and explain macroeconomics, microeconomics, business policy, and church finance in a way they could all understand. 

Clarkson strongly believes that God calls His people to spread the gospel no matter their occupation. He would often tell his students: “We are called to spread the gospel wherever we go. You are equally called into the teaching profession, or business, or governmental service as an individual called on the mission field or pulpit ministry as a pastor. That’s an equal calling.”

That’s one of the reasons why Clarkson was a professor who intentionally got to know students outside of the classroom. He served as an advisor to students in the Student Government Association (SGA) and he and his wife, Jan, would invite them to their home for dinner once a month, get to know them, visit with them, and discuss “a little bit of business before dessert.” 

The Development of the Business Program
During Clarkson’s time at UVF, he started the Global Business major along with Dr. Walter, another professor in the Business department. He also marketed the business minor to attract students from other majors who were interested in business but didn’t want to change their major. 

A champion of educating people on poverty and strategies for combatting it, Clarkson was awarded the PovertyCure Scholar award for Acton University in 2015 and 2016 and was also part of the PovertyCure consulting team for Latin American Intermediaries in Guatemala in 2016. Clarkson was a Kern Fellow for Acton University from 2012-2014. He is also a published author for his case study on poverty in Reading, PA, along with UVF graduate Sarah Bessette Clark ’14.

In his senior seminar class, Clarkson implemented the Business Strategy Game online competition that simulates the business marketplace where students build and run a shoe company and compete against students from top universities around the world. Over the past several years, UVF students have ranked in the top 100 teams worldwide, with students this year ranking first. To have a team ranked number one in the world the year he was retiring was, according to Clarkson, “delightful.” For more information on their accomplishment, click here.

Future plans
Clarkson and his wife, Jan, will move back to Michigan to the house where they raised their children in the 90s. There they will live closer to their children and grandchildren, and also reconnect with the church in which they served before coming to UVF. In other endeavors, Clarkson has two stipulations: is he passionate about it and can he make an impact? He is confident that God will continue to see him and his family through this period in their lives as they are brought full circle: from business, to pastoring children, to teaching business, to children again as he will be able to spend time with and teach his grandson, Myles. 

The university is thankful for the time Clarkson was here and for the dedication, time, and skills he invested in his students. His experience and contribution to the Business department and university community was invaluable. Although he is leaving, the legacy he began here at UVF will continue.