By Cassy Sottile
After writing stories and press releases for eight years, outgoing Director of College Communications Wendy Clarke is returning to her journalistic roots following her departure from Washington College.
Clarke will work as a science writer and editor for Maryland Sea Grant College in the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.
Sea Grant is a national program that was founded approximately 50 years and primarily focuses on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“I have always admired their mission, which is public outreach and education about the science of the maritime environment. I will be taking the research of environmental scientists who are studying, for example, effects of climate change on the Chesapeake Bay and turning it into stories and content that can be distributed to a broad audience of people to help them better understand the science,” Clarke said.
In addition to writing for Sea Grant, Clarke is senior editor of the “Good Old Boat” magazine and writes freelance stories for “Chesapeake Bay Magazine,” “Soundings,” and Smithsonianmag.com.
Currently, no one was hired to replace Clarke, but her job will be posted soon.
“Wendy Clarke has been an exceptional writer and spokesman for WC, and her skills are truly exceptional,” President Kurt Landgraf said. “We will miss her but wish her the best as she pursues her next challenge.”
Clarke hopes the College continues to offer the best education and community to students possible.
“Most important for me [while I was here] was when I could get the stories of faculty and students out to the largest audience possible to show what set WC apart and tell its story,” Clarke said.
Clarke first arrived at the College in 2012, initially hired as a staff writer to support College Relations and Marketing and the new website at the time.
One of Clarke’s high points while at WC was earning her master’s degree in English from WC, later fulfilling a “lifelong dream of becoming a published poet.”
“I have [Associate Professor of English and Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House Dr.] James Allen Hall to thank for this, who was the first person who told me I was a poet and helped me believe it,” Clarke said.
In 2017, Clarke helped Director of the Eastern Shore Food Lab Dr. Bill Schindler’s primitive technology class get featured in the Washington Post to an estimated national audience of 27 million and a story on WUSA-TV.
Clarke also helped Schindler’s work and WC get published in “The Atlantic” magazine and on NPR.
Both were stories that went worldwide with an estimated reach of nearly 170 million, according to Clarke.
“I really enjoyed working with [Associate Professor and Associate Department of Biology Chair Dr.] Aaron Krochmal on his fascinating turtle research — we got that into multiple outlets but probably one of the biggest was a story he and I collaborated on that ran in “The New Scientist,” with an audience of two million,” Clarke said.
Clarke also collaborated with Associate Professor of Anthropology Dr. Aaron Lampman to feature his students’ ethnographic research on sea level rise on WYPR to a regional audience of over 40,000.
In the last year, Clarke continued her focus on student stories.
“I used strategic placement to get the story and video of the 2019 Sophie Kerr Prize winner to a potential total audience of over 900 million and a publicity value of $1.2 million,” Clarke said. “So, I feel I have worked hard to get WC’s name and story out there.”
During her tenure at the College, Clarke became associate director of communications, director of media relations, and most recently, director of college communications.
With the change in her position, Clarke still wrote stories but dealt more with the media and public relations side of the College, which was not what fulfilled her, according to Clarke.
“The job changed in ways that pulled me from what I really want to do, which is journalism, science writing, and most fundamentally, writing stories,” Clarke said.