Almost every one of the dorms at the University of Dallas is named after a saint, and West Hall will take its own patron next month.
On May 14, West Hall will officially become Clark Hall after the late Zach Clark, ’16, who died in a car accident last July.
The administration has worked on the name change since Sept. 2015 in a joint effort between President Thomas Keefe, the Office of Advancement and Zach Clark’s parents, Barry and Kathy Clark.
The Clarks had a choice of many possible areas to dedicate to their son, including the Catherine Hall courtyard, classrooms in the new SB Hall, an outdoor area and a commemorative area at the Eugene Constantin Rome Campus.
Eventually, Clark’s parents settled on West Hall.
“Zach loved Rome, but he was one of the first to live in West Hall,” Barry Clark said. “In fact, he switched to Spring Rome for the sole reason of living in New Hall. So for whatever reason, it was a very important place for him. We also wanted a place we could visit often to reflect. Somewhere a little closer than Rome.”
Outside Clark Hall there will be a large limestone sign bearing its name.
Inside the lounge on the main floor will be a portrait of Clark, as well as a plaque that tells his story and includes a few quotations of his.
While Clark was at UD, he left quite a large impression on the entire community.
“You couldn’t dislike him,” Clark’s classmate and friend senior Alex Henderson said. “You could get tired of his optimism, but that’s the most you could do. He was friendly to everyone. No matter what, he was a great person.”
Physics professor Dr. Richard Olenick, who was both Clark’s teacher and friend, echoed Henderson’s comments, while also remembering Clark’s radiating optimism.
“[Zach was] one of UD’s own who touched the lives and hearts of everyone he met,” Olenick said in an email. “Zach had a resounding voice that echoed his enthusiasm, and he said, ‘I just don’t know how I can beat last year, but I will try.’ ”
Olenick added, “[The renaming] also shows students that … UD is a family.”
Clark served in many important capacities at UD, both official and unofficial.
He contributed to the University News, participated in Student Government and was a key member of the Rotaract Club.
The attendance at his wake proved his popularity.
“[There were] countless attendees and all had some memory to share,” Barry Clark said.
Clark believes that the renaming will preserve his son’s memory after those who knew him have graduated.
“Down the road, we want later generations to know that Zach found his calling at UD,” Barry Clark said.
Clark Hall is not the first UD institution to embody such a sentiment.
The Constantin College of Liberal Arts retains the name of Eugene Constantin, whose parents endowed the college so that future generations would remember their son, who died during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II.
Just as students have much to honor about Eugene Constantin, so too do they have reason to commemorate the many admirable qualities in Clark.
Clark had a promising future in journalism, having completed a prestigious internship with Fox News.
He chose instead to serve troubled youth with Totus Tuus, an organization committed to evangelization.
“He followed God’s calling and chose Totus Tuus,” Barry Clark said. “He had a passion for serving troubled youth. The last thing he said to me was essentially, ‘I’ve decided teaching is my calling. Anything worth doing is what you’d be willing to do for free your whole life. If you find that, it’s what you should do.’ ”
Keefe, Barry Clark and Henderson all agree that Zach is looking down favorably on the UD community from Heaven.
“I think he’s up there praying pretty hard for us,” Henderson said. “He would try to fight [the renaming]. He’d be like, ‘C’mon guys, not me, pick that person there. They’re better than me.’ ”
“He’s up in Heaven smiling, thanking the staff and especially President Keefe who wanted to name something after Zach, since he is a saint,” Barry Clark said.
Henderson is glad for the change but will still be conscious of his friend’s absence.
“I think it’s a very great honor, but I’m still [going to] be sad when I hear the name,” Henderson said.
Barry Clark also said May 14 will not be easy.
“It will be bittersweet; I will be proud but also sad,” Barry Clark said. “Admittedly, it will be more sweet than bitter.”