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If you happened to walk through Mantor hall in the past few weeks, you may have noticed something unusual... read more

UNK alumn, educator, says smaller schools trump rest
Chelsea Archer
Antelope Staff

At first, Dr. Clifford Trump, Chancellor Emeritus of the State College System of West Virginia, doesn’t seem to have much in common with UNK. He was the Board of Regents Chief Academic Officer at Idaho State University and president of the Black Hills State University in South Dakota. Trump obtained his doctorate degree in Wyoming and his master's of education in Arizona. But if you back up to 1959, buried beneath his many career accomplishments, you’ll find Trump as an undergraduate student at a small school named Kearney State College. Here, it is easy to discover that he has much in common with UNK, where his story began.

I understand that you went to Kearney State College. Where is your hometown?
My hometown is Chappell, but I moved to Cheyenne, Wyo. by the first grade.

If you moved to Cheyenne at such a young age, why did you choose KSC?
I received a journalism scholarship to the University of Wyoming. During high school I wrote for the Cheyenne paper. Well I had a friend that I would go to the gym with who was going to play basketball for KSC. I went to the gym with my friend, and the KSC basketball coach offered me the opportunity to play basketball. So I took the basketball position. KSC didn’t have a journalism degree, so I majored in English instead.

Did you play basketball throughout your college career?
No. A new coach came in, and at that time freshmen couldn’t play on a varsity level. I just drifted off on my own. But I started playing tennis for KSC my senior year, and we won a tennis conference. I also wrote a sports column for a short amount of time for The Antelope.

You said you had to change your major from journalism to English. So, what was your first job after graduation?
I actually double majored in English and physical education. The summer after I graduated I married my wife, and she and I moved to Kimball and taught for three years. From there we moved to Arizona, and I taught and coached basketball and tennis. I then got a master's degree at the University of Arizona.
After my master’s degree, I taught part-time at the University of Wyoming for three years. Then, I took one year off to pursue my doctorate degree. I moved to Idaho to become the Board of Regents Chief Academic Officer. I was the academic vice president of the state of higher education for 10 years. I also was the vice president of administration at Idaho State University for four years.
At that time, the college president left and I was elected interim. Now, the policy for the president was that I couldn’t be interim, but I took it anyway to see if I liked the position. I was president for 14 months, and then I applied for and became the Black Hills University president for nine years. Then I became the Chancellor of the State College System of West Virginia. I managed 10 colleges at that time. In 2000, I retired.

What have you done since retirement?
I am now a higher education consultant, and I give presentations. I help the board evaluate chancellors of colleges and help search for presidents. I also play tennis about three times a week, and my wife and I are in an exercise class. I’m very actively involved.

Out of all the jobs you have had in your career, which was your favorite?
I’ve liked every job I’ve ever had. But my favorite was being the spokesperson for students because I like interacting with students. Hearing their life stories and their plans for the future kept me interested. Never underestimate college students, especially first generation students. I found them to be very ambitious, which I like.
I have attended a small college, a medium college and a huge college. Of those, small is better. I believe it completely because a small school provides more opportunities for extracurricular activities and more friendships. I’m still friends with two of the three people I met my first day at Kearney State College.

Do you have any advice for UNK students?
I encourage students to become active alumni and go to their 50 year anniversary as I have. I was awarded the distinguished alumni award at UNK in 1987. It was nice to be recognized. When I gave the commencement speech last spring, it was my 20th commencement speech. It is always an honor to give commencement speeches.
Also, it is really important to finish your degree. You never know where it will take you. And don’t worry about what school you went to for your higher education. Employers judge you based on what you produce and your hard work, not the school you graduated from. I’ve been around Ivy league graduates and graduates of other well-known colleges, and I’ve never felt disadvantaged in my education.

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