“I always liked nature, open space, and the outdoors, and the fact that our open lands are nearby. I couldn’t imagine myself living in the middle of a large city without natural spaces around me.”
“I think those spaces are very important in protecting nature. When folks come to Clark, they usually think of the outdoors as the White Mountains up in New Hampshire, the Green Mountains in Vermont, and the Adirondacks in New York. Those are wonderful places, but there are also other places that are 10 minutes away. They are there because the people such as folks in the Greater Worcester Land Trust (GWLT) care about protecting open spaces. If we do not protect these spaces, as cities and communities develop they will be swallowed up by development. Protecting lands enhances the quality of life for everyone around us.”- Greg Doerschler.
I had a chance to talk with Greg Doerschler at his office on a sunlit morning. His room is small, but really pleasant because of its lively environment, with many photos of happy faces from many outdoor trips hanging on the walls. Greg is a senior analyst in Clark’s Office of Institutional Research and the adviser to Clark’s Outing Club. I am sure that many of you have at least heard of this club, or are on its mailing list, or have taken part in one of its trips. Greg came to Clark in April 2000, and started advising the Outing Club in 2002. He is from Connecticut, but attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and since then has chosen to reside in Worcester.
I knew Greg from being involved and becoming a member in the Outing Club. I thought he was a very active and passionate adviser in the club, so I wanted to know more about him through this interview. As I got to know him better, it turned out to be a very nice talk.
His job at Clark is within Clark’s administration – he works with numbers and survey data pertaining to the Clark student body. If I had not talked to him, I would not have known that every college has an Institutional Research Office. The aim of this office is to collect, maintain, analyze and share data about Clark, such as the information you see in College Guidebooks and websites like U.S. News. He said that in order to improve educational policy, college administrators need evidence to see whether their decisions are effective. The responsibility of the Institutional Research Office is to measure the results and provide necessary information for the creation of better policies.
Besides working in the office, Greg is also engaged in the business of the Outing Club. He loves to lead and organize Nature Connection trips for Clark students. He is most excited about reaching out to those who are not predisposed to hiking to go up a mountain. “Yeah, I will give it a try”—one of the students signing up for a trip might say, and they end up falling in love with the hike.
Greg gains his joy by creating enjoyable moments for others. He does not want Clarkies to think that Main Street is all there is to Worcester. After seeing The Cascades – a 300 foot waterfall in Worcester – and the lands protected by the GWLT, many Clark students have decided to do volunteer work, internships, and LEEP projects with GWLT. Their first connection with the GWLT and its properties is often through an Outing Club trip.
As a last question, I asked Greg whether he would want to see any changes at Clark in the future. He said that he loves Clark the way it is right now, and hopes its mission does not change. He wants the character of the student body to remain. He wishes to see the student body as individuals who always feel at home at Clark, and connected with everyone. And he hopes the choice which students make to be at Clark is not based solely on affordability, or good financial package, but because you find Clark’s small but friendly environment to be a good fit. You like the LEEP model of education at Clark, and you choose the school because you want to make good things happen and challenge convention. You pick a school not just because you want to be able to earn a good salary, but because you yearn for a better education to be able to pursue your passion to thrive.
“Being with the students is the way I get my energy.” Greg likes to mention his experience with the Outing Club to explain how he has changed and learned many things by being an adviser. I want to say thank you to Greg as his way of thinking changed my perspectives about Clark’s mission, and his ideal inspires my love for nature. His passion is amazing, and his contribution to the love of nature in the Clark community is worth recognizing.
Check out this Facebook page about Outing Club trips, and you will have an idea of what a trip is like. I hope to see you on one of our trips!
(Cover photo by author)