Clapp announces his retirement from Catawba College
December 16, 2021
To alumni, students and employees of Catawba College, Dr. Kenneth Clapp is a friendly face on campus, always available to listen and be there for them. He’s been with Catawba for as long as most people can remember.
This summer, he will retire from the College after 33 years of service.
“Ken has spent decades serving our university community with wisdom, compassion and kindness,” said Catawba College President David P. Nelson. “Catawba is a better place because of the imprint it left on us. He will be sorely missed.
With Catawba since 1989, Dr Clapp has held several key positions. First as College chaplain and assistant professor of religion, then later as chaplain and vice-president for student and religious life, responsible for all student services as well as teaching and chaplaincy and two terms as interim dean of students. He then became chaplain and senior vice-president, adding facilities, catering, conferences and transportation to these roles. Dr Clapp also served as Interim President from April 2020 to July 2020, helping with the transition from Brien Lewis to President David P. Nelson. In addition to his current roles as Chaplain and Senior Vice President, Dr Clapp is Director of the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values in Catawba.
“Ten years ago people started asking me when I was going to retire,” Clapp said. “These questions were a little confusing considering that I was wondering if they suggested that I should ‘get out of the way’. However, in trying to get the students to think about their professional vocation, I used the quote attributed to Mark Twain suggesting that if you choose the right job, you will never work another day because you will enjoy it so much. work it won’t seem like work. “
He was first introduced to Catawba College as a teenager when he accompanied a group from his home church, the United Church of Christ Mt. Hope, to the dedication of Omwake-Dearborn Chapel in 1964. Due to Catawba’s ties to the United Church of Christ, he felt called to college as a student in 1966 to continue his undergraduate studies in sociology.
During his studies, he served as President of the Student Government Association, Co-President of the Student Christian Association, Chairman of the Judicial Council, and a member of the North Carolina Student Legislature.
After graduating from Catawba, he attended Yale Divinity School and Lancaster Theological Seminary and was ordained a minister of the United Church of Christ. His professional vocation led him first to serve as Minister of Education at North Haven Congregational United Church of Christ in North Haven, Connecticut, pastor of Emanuel UCC in Lincolnton, then at the UCC site. Blowing Rock Assembly Grounds where he was executive director of this facility before joining Catawba.
When he returned to Catawba as an employee, he was following in his great-great-great-great-uncle’s footsteps by taking a leadership role at Catawba; his family patriarch, Jacob C. Clapp, was president of Old Catawba in Newton from 1861 to 1900.
He has been and continues to be very supportive of his alma mater. He was part of the Catawba Alumni Association and chaired the 1970s promotion effort which raised a gift of $ 50,000 in 1990. He created a scholarship to the College in honor of his parents, the late Ernest and Lillian Clapp, who always encouraged his faith journey and his pursuit of education.
For decades he has been a staple of home football matches, cheering on his beloved students and visibly reminding his support and faith in them.
As chaplain, Dr. Clapp has had a significant and lasting impact on the lives of hundreds of students by guiding and encouraging them on their journey to strengthen their faith. He has served as a mentor and advisor to many students and made friendships with many students that have lasted for years.
The weekly services at Dr Clapp’s Chapel provided an opportunity for individuals to reflect on their spiritual lives and to gain solace and inspiration for the week, but perhaps this is because of the more than 200 retreats that ‘he planned and directed for both current and former students that he has had the greatest impact. For many, he was one of the first people they met at Catawba, and his challenges of “making a difference” and “getting to know each other” at freshman retreats were words that would reverberate throughout their career. academic career. He has also presided over the weddings of hundreds of students and participated in the annual Lessons and Carols Christmas program.
His service does not end at Catawba College, however, he has chaired the First United Church of Christ Foundation, served on the advisory board of Piedmont Crossing Retirement Community and the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Board of Review, is an advisor to Catawba’s Dead Athenian Society, the Philomathean Society and the Catawba Student Government Association.
For his myriad of service, he has been honored by Catawba with the Trustee Award, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, OB Michael Award, Phi Epsilon Award, Trustee Award, Alpha Chi Award and the Teacher of the Year Award on four different occasions. during his tenure. In 2000, members of Catawba’s senior class created an award named in his honor; The Kenneth Clapp Tri Delta Award. This award is presented annually to a professor or staff member who exemplifies their qualities of dedication, dedication and reliability. The United Church of Christ honored him with its national award for excellence in teaching.
“Although often exhausting and frustrating and always stimulating and demanding, ‘working’ with the students at Catawba has been truly enjoyable, rewarding, enlightening, invigorating and joyful,” added Clapp. “So why retire? As the author of Ecclesiastes reminds us, “there is a time for everything”. Prior to being invited to assume the role of Interim President in 2020, I had planned to retire in 2020. While I will miss being actively involved in what I think is the most exciting chapter, the most enjoyable and most beneficial in the history of Catawba is the moment. “
Students, colleagues and alumni will miss their generous sharing of their time, friendship and wisdom. When asked what he was going to do with all his free time, Dr Clapp replied that he looked forward to “spending more time on the farm, in my cabin, and finally finishing a few books than I did.” ‘have started’.
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