School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Faculty honor longtime HR manager Zirka Clark upon her retirement

Stephen Lerner, M.D., presents Zirka Clark with a plaque thanking her for her 25 years of dedicated service.

Stephen Lerner, M.D., presents Zirka Clark with a plaque thanking her for her 25 years of dedicated service.

Zirka Clark has worked for the School of Medicine and with its Faculty Senate for 25 years.

Zirka Clark has worked for the School of Medicine and with its Faculty Senate for 25 years.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine Faculty Senate, on Sept. 20, honored and paid tribute to the extraordinary dedication of Human Resources manager Zirka Clark at a reception in the third floor conference room of Scott Hall. The event was well attended by faculty, including chairs and Faculty Affairs deans, and staff who have worked with Clark during the past 25 years.

Following the reception, Faculty Senate President Stephen Lerner, M.D., presented Clark with a plaque as a symbol of the deep appreciation and high esteem in which the faculty hold her for her untiring support and devotion behind the bright lights to the school and its faculty. Dr Lerner perhaps captured the moment best when he reflected on the untold numbers of School of Medicine faculty who will never know how much Clark contributed to their careers.

Clark has been a Wayne State University employee for 30 years; the last 25 at the School of Medicine. “My plan was to stay for about four years at the school, and then move on to bigger and better stuff,” she said. “Hmmm, turns out I spent most of my adult life here in the School of Medicine.”

She followed with a brief chronology of her career, beginning by thanking the faculty and staff members that mentored her as she was getting her feet wet, including Dr. Ray K. Brown, Roger Spry, Dr. Henry Nadler and Carol Paduchowski.

Clark’s tenure has spanned the appointments of six School of Medicine deans, four associate/vice deans and plethora of presidents, provosts and associate provosts. She saw the ranks of the School of Medicine payroll faculty grow from about 450 to 750, FTA faculty increase from 1,300 to 2,300, and research faculty swell from roughly 350 to 800.

Clark recounted with great fondness her work with all members of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, as well as the 11 Faculty Senate presidents with whom she worked most closely. “The presidents of the Faculty Senate were special because they had to serve for four years, two as president-elect, and two as president. After four years, they became administratively very, very savvy,” she said.

At the peak of Human Resources activities, Clark headed a staff of 12, and many of her colleagues, past and present, attended the reception. A number have remained close through the years, including Jean Dismuke, Dwanja King, Julianne Maruszewski, Dina Hardeman and Dina Weems.

She thanked several faculty who organized the celebration and crafted the plaque inscription, including Drs. Yi-chi Kong, Judith Whittum-Hudson, David Kessel, Noreen Rossi, Virginia Delaney-Black and Steve Lerner, as well as Mary Uryga, who organized the catering. And with consummate graciousness, Clark concluded on a reflective note: “We determine whether something will be a blessing or a curse by the way we choose to see it. I have been truly blessed to be a part of Wayne State University and the School of Medicine. I thank all of you for taking the time to be here and for making this event joyous and memorable as I move on to another chapter of my life. God bless and keep each and every one of you!”

For those who would like to write Clark, she can be reached at zclark@med.wayne.edu or aa5279@wayne.edu.
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