As the longtime President and Chief Executive Officer of Clark Construction, A. James Clark was a visionary businessman. Under his leadership, the company transformed Washington, building everything from museums and sports arenas to Metro stations and hotels.
But Mr. Clark—who passed away in 2015—built more than buildings. His foundation, the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, has been a generous supporter of countless organizations in the Washington area. However, it was not until Mr. Clark’s grandson, Clark Pastrick ‘10, became a student that his grandfather, a lifelong Washingtonian, got to know the Gonzaga community.
“The more my father got to know Gonzaga during Clark’s time here, the more he came to really love everything about it,” says Courtney Pastrick, Clark’s mother and Board Chair of the Clark Foundation.
In 2010, Mr. Clark established a scholarship fund within Gonzaga's endowment to support ongoing financial assistance for students who would otherwise be unable to attend Gonzaga. In December 2018, Courtney and her husband, Scott Pastrick, Chairman of Gonzaga’s Board of Trustees, announced that the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation planned to continue to honor Mr. Clark’s legacy in an extraordinary way: making a $5 million gift to Gonzaga’s endowment through the scholarship fund Mr. Clark had created. The gift is the largest in Gonzaga’s history.
“One of the core focus areas of our foundation is education for the underserved,” says Courtney. “You can invest current-use dollars to scholarships, but if you really want it to live on for generations, you have to do it through an endowment. My father felt very strongly about that. He was the beneficiary of a college education on scholarship, and he realized how life-changing an excellent education can be.”
Scott Pastrick was educated by the Jesuits at Campion High School, a boarding school in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin that closed in 1975. “It was there that I came to appreciate the unparalleled value of a Jesuit education,” Scott says. “These institutions teach young people not only academics, but the importance of character, community, and giving back.”
When it came time for Clark to look at high schools, he and his parents were immediately drawn to Gonzaga. “We used to say, there’s something in the water supply here,” says Courtney. “You can’t sit through a Mother-Son Brunch, or see the impact of the Freshman and Kairos retreats on your son, and not know that there’s an undefinable spirit here.”
During Clark’s time on Eye Street, the Pastricks became very close with Father Allen Novotny, S.J., who was President at the time. Like many members of the Gonzaga community, they were heartbroken when he passed away unexpectedly in 2010.
Courtney says that in addition to the shock of losing Father Novotny so suddenly, they were worried for the future of the school.
“It can be extremely traumatic when you lose a really strong leader like that,” she says. “But it was such a smooth transition, first with Father Lingan and now with Father Planning. Our faith and confidence in the school has only grown stronger.”
Scott joined Gonzaga’s Board of Trustees in 2009, and is now serving in his final year as Chair. “There were a couple of times when I have kind of looked up and said to Father Novotny, what have you gotten me into?” Scott jokes now about his long tenure on the Board.
As Chairman of the Board, Scott has been heavily involved in ensuring Gonzaga’s long-term financial stability, including an emphasis on building the endowment as the school approaches its bicentennial anniversary in 2021.
Sean Creamer ‘81, a fellow member of the Board of Trustees who will succeed Scott as Chairman, says as Gonzaga looks ahead, continuing to prioritize the endowment is key to keeping tuition low and meeting the financial need of every student who has been admitted—regardless of his family’s situation. “What our endowment ultimately does is provide long-term stability, especially in the area of need-based financial aid,” says Sean. “The last thing that Gonzaga ever wants is to have a student earn his spot and not be able to become part of this community because it puts too much financial strain on his family.”
With this gift, the Pastricks hope to highlight the importance of the endowment and its role in keeping Gonzaga accessible and affordable. “We believe Gonzaga is a gem; it offers academic excellence in an urban setting and opens its doors to high-potential students notwithstanding their ability to pay,” says Courtney. “This gift fits wonderfully into the Foundation’s overarching mission to connect effort with opportunity and ensure every child receives a high-quality education.”
Gonzaga President Father Stephen W. Planning, S.J. says the gift will be felt on Eye Street for generations to come. “Over the past ten years especially, we’ve seen a significant amount of change at Gonzaga—improvements to campus, more technology in the classroom, new teaching styles that adapt to the ways today’s students learn. Amidst all that change, people sometimes worry that the essence
of Gonzaga is somehow vulnerable to change.”
“With this gift to the endowment,” continues Father Planning, “the Pastricks and the Clark Foundation are investing in the very heart of Gonzaga by helping to sustain our commitment to serve a student body that is socioeconomically and geographically diverse. Countless young men will benefit from their vision, leadership, and generosity.”
As for the Pastricks, they say they couldn’t think of a better cause to support than the young men of Eye Street. “Gonzaga really does build on a student’s moral compass and their sense of responsibility to the community and those less fortunate,” Scott says. “These young men—our son included—leave here having that gift forever.”
Courtney adds: “Gonzaga has been around a long time—it’s not going anywhere. It’s been tested over time, and it just gets better and better and stronger and stronger.”