“Every Day Was Different”
Peter Clark P’01 gets a final round of applause.
For 14 years, Peter Clark worked the second shift as the security lead officer, making his rounds of campus buildings in the late afternoon and evening, chatting with anyone who pauses in his path. “Go home and have dinner!” he would urge employees if he found them working late. “How’s your day going?” he would ask dryly when he responded to calls from students locked out of their rooms.
Commencement 2021 was Clark’s last day on the job. Earlier this year, as he contemplated his retirement, he said, “I’m going to shed a tear when I walk out of this place.”
How did you get to NMH?
The company I’d been working for for 27 years closed suddenly, and I ended up at home for a month. My lawn was immaculate. The garden looked fantastic. My house was very clean. And I was bored. When I started at NMH, I told my wife, I’m going to be the best officer they ever had.
What have you liked about the job?
Every day has been different. I thrive on that.
What kinds of calls does the campus safety office typically get?
Student lockouts — that’s the call we get all the time. And we respond to every NMH fire alarm. I was in the Millers Falls (Massachusetts) Fire Department for 12 years; I left there as chief. Ninety percent of the fire alarms at NMH are because of burnt popcorn. We also unclog toilets in dorms, take students to the health center, and reset the circuit breakers when students lose power in their rooms because they have too many things plugged in. We sometimes have to restart the boiler in the power plant. We respond if the cows get out at the farm. Once, we found the bull — his name was Scout — in the middle of Main Road, with cars swerving around him.
“When I started at NMH, I told my wife, ‘I’m going to be the best security officer they ever had.’”
There are security issues at the farm?
Oh, yes. My favorite farm story happened years ago, in the spring. I saw the horses grazing where they weren’t supposed to be, in a field down the road from the barn. They were having a hell of a time because the grass was fantastic. Now, I check on the barn every night, and I’d say to the horses, “Hey, guys,” and give them a carrot. So when I saw them loose in the field, I yelled, “Hey, guys!” They spun around, and the ground started shaking — they broke into a dead run, coming right at me. I had to dive behind a tree. They ran out of the field, down the road, and into the barn. Thank god there were no cars coming.
What’s a high point of your NMH career?
A few years ago, I was the ceremonial sheriff at Commencement. For weeks, I drove around campus at night in the patrol car, practicing what I was supposed to say. Getting up in front of all those people was a great honor.
Have you had the impact on NMH that you wanted to have?
Before COVID, when the all-school meetings would happen on Monday mornings in the chapel, the head of security would get up at the beginning of the school year and show photos of each officer, so the new students would know who we were. I was never at those meetings because I work second shift, but people would always tell me, “Peter, you wouldn’t believe the applause you get at that meeting.” That makes me feel good. It means I made a difference with these kids.
Interview by Jennifer Sutton