With the beginning of the 2021 school year, the Clarke University Board of Trustees named Jane Daly Seaberg ’78 and Maureen Quann ’97 as its newest Chair and Vice Chair. Along with the efforts of the full Board, this dynamic duo is honoring Clarke’s past while looking to the future.
“At its core, the function of the Board is stewardship,” Quann said. “It is our role to adapt to the needs and wants of students today while fostering a campus environment that is as vibrant and thriving as possible for the students and community of tomorrow.
I think it is truly amazing that in nearly 200 years we have stayed true to the spirit of our Foundress and our history, while using our core values to evolve and navigate change.
“We want people to understand the value of Clarke and see themselves in the Clarke of today,” Seaberg added. “To do that, we as a Board seek to ask the important questions and never make assumptions. We believe in evaluating and assessing to understand how we are relevant in the market today. Not just to get students to graduation but to live out our core values and our commitment to the common good.”
A focus on increased accessibility and support
Early in Seaberg and Quann’s terms, the Board is focused on aligning its initiatives with the Clarke Strategic Plan. Though portions of the plan may have shifted due to the coronavirus pandemic, continuing to recruit and develop students, as well as high caliber faculty and staff, and prudently managing and growing the financial resources of the university remain top priorities.
There are many items that contribute to these goals and one that Seaberg is most passionate about is diversity, equity, and inclusion. As someone who has worked at a variety of higher education institutions and was a first-generation college student herself, Seaberg can personally attest to the power that increasing the accessibility to higher education can have in a person’s life. Throughout college, she relied on the Federal Pell Grant, which assists undergraduates with a high degree of unmet financial need.
“I remember holding my breath with my father when that tuition bill would come. We did not have a lot of money, but Clarke always made it work for me,” Seaberg said.
For me to sit as the Board Chair as someone who was a Pell Eligible student, that says a lot about the power of Clarke and how it propels social mobility.
Quann too has a personal connection with increasing accessibility to Clarke’s world-class education, after starting her college career with another institution.
“I’m so proud of our CC Today CU Tomorrow initiative with the community colleges,” Quann said. “It touches my heart because of my own transfer experience. When I transferred to Clarke from the University of Iowa over winter break in 1994, I was looking for course options and greater flexibility in my learning. While that may mirror some students’ experiences, others may be looking at a career change or affordability. No path is the same, yet these partnerships create greater access to a four-year or advanced degree for all, and that’s a powerful thing.”
Learning from experience
Although nearly two decades separate the women’s time as undergraduates as Clarke, both Seaberg and Quann found a supportive atmosphere that helped set their career trajectory.
“On a snowy day in December, a BVM Sister drove me to campus and it was so beautiful,” Seaberg said. “We ran into a student I knew and she kind of took us under her wing. Exams had been the night before and all the girls in her room had thrown their mattresses on the floor for a slumber party. I wasn’t sure how the Sister felt about it, but I fell in love with Clarke that day.”
Seaberg’s time with Clarke passed quickly through communications classes with George R. R. Martin, internships with local papers, and even a media tour of New York City. After graduation she started work at a small newspaper but returned to Clarke in 1983 as the Vice President of Public Relations. A few months later she’d face a career-defining moment – The Clarke Fire.
“The year of the fire, I was lucky in a way because I was new in my position. So was Catherine Dunn, BVM and some other key members of the leadership team. We were still pretty fearless,” Seaberg said. “We did what we had to do and despite the challenges it really showed Clarke at its best. It proved to the community – and to the nation, really – who we are.”
Her work following the fire earned her national attention, as well as positions with Georgetown University, Trinity College, and more. She later worked for a consulting firm that assisted colleges and universities across the nation with student recruitment marketing. Now semi-retired, she dedicates much of her time to non-profits focusing on the underserved throughout Philadelphia, PA.
As for Quann, her journey with Clarke started with the welcoming and supportive community in the Chemistry department.
“Sr. Diana Malone, the Chemistry Department Chair, met me on a Saturday afternoon and showed me around,” Quann said.
The fact that a department chair made the time for me blew me away. More than that, she committed to a plan that would get me up to speed in while still allowing me to graduate on time, even as a transfer student. She went as far as recommending lab partners and classmates that would understand my situation and help me along. I’ll never forget how that felt.
Following graduation, Quann took a position with Northwestern University as part of a National Institute for Health research study. In 2004, she decided to make the switch to law and enrolled in the Chicago-Kent Law School at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
“It may not seem like a clear path, chemistry to law, but it was something I always wanted to do and I knew if I put it off, it would be harder to go back,” Quann said. “Throughout my career, I have always focused on the plan. How I get there might change, but it’s the goal I’m really after.”
After working in a Chicago-area firm for three years, Quann returned to Dubuque to serve as an assistant city attorney. In August 2021, she moved to Cottingham and Butler as their Corporate Counsel and Director of Quality Control Management.
With both women bringing different experiences to their Board of Trustee roles, collaboration has been the foundation of their working relationship.
“As the vice chair, I have been so appreciative of Jane’s collaboration and openness,” Quann said. “I am coming from outside higher education, and she’s had so much experience in that area that it’s great to get her perspective and bounce ideas off of her.”
“While Maureen and I may have different stories, we are bonded by Clarke,” Seaberg said. “I would also give credit to Thom D. Chesney as University President and the whole Board of Trustees for their tremendous energy and commitment to Clarke. It’s a big responsibility.”
Our graduates have the power to shape communities not just in Dubuque but across the country.
To learn more about the Clarke University Board of Trustees, visit clarke.edu/about-clarke/university-leadership/board-of-trustees.