April 23, 2014
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Community to gather to remember student killed in accident

Michael Clark
Courtesy of Facebook
The Ithaca College community mourns the death of junior Michael Clark, an english major from Boxburough, Mass.

A vigil will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 at Muller Chapel for students to commemorate the life of junior Michael Clark, who was killed in a car accident Dec. 1 while driving back to Ithaca College after Thanksgiving break.

According to the New York State Police, the crash occurred on Route 88 near Cobleskill, N.Y., when Clark swerved the 2002 Santa Fe vehicle to avoid a deer. Clark, 21, was a junior English major from Boxborough, Mass. Three other students were injured in the crash.

The other students in the car with Clark were junior Ezra Chamberlain, junior Melanie Pond and sophomore Christopher Rose. All three were transported to the Albany Medical Center for treatment. At this time, only Rose has been released from the hospital.

Senior Kelly Kane, a friend of the three survivors who is currently with them in Albany, said via email that Chamberlain and Pond are expected to recover completely.

“It has been a time of mixed feelings; we are devastated by Michael’s loss but also incredibly grateful for Chris and Melanie and Ezra’s safety,” she said. “Both Melanie and Ezra are being treated for fractures and both are expected to make a full recovery. However, Ezra and Melanie are both facing long, difficult recovery periods, so we would be incredibly grateful if their friends, classmates and coworkers would continue to support them over the coming weeks.”

Clark, who began his college career as an exploratory student, declared his English major this year. Chris Matusiak, assistant professor of English and Clark’s academic adviser, said Clark was a standout student who was respected by his peers.

“Students always recognized that his sharp ideas were shaping the conversation and debate in class,” Matusiak said. “He was very influential in that way.”

Matusiak said Clark was passionate about English literature and thoroughly enjoyed the work of William Shakespeare.

“When he got back [from break], he and I had plans to work on an honors thesis together,” Matusiak said. “He was going to write a thesis about Shakespeare and the early modern English language.”

Matusiak also said his advisee had been accepted to study at the college’s London Center for next semester.

“He was very excited,” Matusiak said. “He had not been there before. He was keen to actually start research in the British Library on his project … and attend a play or two at the Globe Theatre.”

Chris Holmes, assistant professor of English with whom Clark was taking the class titled “Studies in World Literature: The Post Apartheid Novel” this semester, said Clark had a seriousness and a scholarly way that was rare in undergraduates. He said Clark had been unprepared for class just once in two semesters.

“It was clear that whatever the assignment was, he hadn’t read for that day,” Holmes said. “He was never quiet in class, and he was quiet that day. The day after, he came to my office and handed me a handwritten note of apology for not being prepared. Students are unprepared all the time. I don’t know if I have ever received an apology, let alone a handwritten one.”

Clark had been recently inducted to the college’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society. He was also a prolific member of the speech and debate team, earning accolades and honors for the college.

Sophomore Wahid Khan was Clark’s partner on the debate team and participated in five tournaments with him.

“We bonded over a bunch of things, but we had our differences,” Khan said. “We bonded over British television, Dr. Who and such. We differed in terms of political views … it was a beautiful experience getting to know him.”

Holmes said Clark always respected his peers, even if he did not agree with them.

“He would take what they said seriously,” Holmes said. “I already miss him deeply … He left a great and abiding memory at Ithaca.”