The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

Alleged Descendant of University Founder Raises Bid for the Presidency

This story was originally published in print, on April 9th, 2024, in the Satire Edition of the Scarlet, the Shartlet. 

A man identifying himself as Jonas Clark IV, claiming to be the great-grandson of the University’s founder, is demanding that President Fithian abdicate in his favor. 

Mr. Clark arrived on campus over the weekend, and has staked out in the boardroom of the Alumni and Student Engagement Center, refusing to leave until his demand is met. 

Jonas Gilman Clark and his wife, Susan Wright Clark, were long-thought to have never had children. He died in 1900.  

“I can trace a direct connection to Gilman,” Clark IV told The Scarlet in an interview conducted at distance, through an ajar door to the board room. Mr. Clark said his alleged great-grandfather “would’ve wanted” him to rule the University, and that he has the documents to prove it. 

Gary Labovich, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the University’s legal team is reviewing Mr. Clark’s evidence. “This was totally unexpected,” Labovich wrote in an email to The Scarlet. “We’ve never heard of any Clark children, not to mention great-grandchildren. I don’t think [Mr. Clark] has any standing to claim dictatorial rule,” Labovich said.

Mr. Clark’s case appears to hinge on a copy of Jonas G. Clark’s will that names his son, Jonas Clark Jr., as an heir. According to Mr. Clark, the founder wrote that he wished for his descendants to have a role in overseeing the University, if it interested them.

University lawyers have asked Clark’s Archives and Special Collections team to inspect the document and compare it to original copies of the will on file in the basement of the Goddard Library. 

CUPD Chief Lauren Misale was on the scene in ASEC when The Scarlet spoke to Mr. Clark. She said officers had tried to remove Mr. Clark, who had littered the board room with yellowing pages from a briefcase, but that he would not comply. “We would prefer not to make a scene,” Misale said. “If he wants to stay, that’s alright. I just need this room ready when classes resume on Wednesday,” she said. 

President Fithian’s office declined to comment.

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