Clark Thompson, Video Producer at Media, Education Resources and Information Technology (MERIT), retired in July after a distinguished 30-year professional career with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working the entire time in the School of Education.
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Clark Thompson earned a BA in Communication Arts in 1982 from UW-Madison. After graduating, he took time off and traveled extensively, including two months in Europe during the summer of 1983. That fall, Clark returned to UW-Madison and enrolled in an advanced photography course in the Art Department as a special student. Clark was hired by the School of Education as a student worker in October, 1983. He worked doing video production and duplication at the then-named Instructional Media Development Center (IMDC). Finding a new passion for educational video work, Clark enrolled in the Educational Communications and Technology master’s program in Curriculum & Instruction. Clark excelled as a student worker, and after a stint as an LTE, he was offered a full-time academic staff position which began on July 1, 1985. This first position was overseeing the duplication and distribution functions of the IMDC. But Clark’s passion and expertise was video production and so he was promoted to full-time video producer in 1987. All the while Clark continued his graduate studies, earning his MS degree in the spring of 1988.
This was an immensely productive time for Clark and the IMDC in general. Scores of programs were created for clients across the School of Education, the campus, the state and beyond. These included numerous video courses, including Teachers Tackle Thinking, Educating Able Learners, Caring for Infants and Toddlers, The Village of Kindness, Clinics on Cassette, and Food Science. Educational videos ranging from how to read to your kids, to mental health screening, to bovine necropsy. Many of these productions were 10-12 part series, between 30 minutes and one hour in length, aired at various PBS stations across the country, and some are still being used in classrooms today. During this same time, video became a popular artistic medium, and Clark was very involved with helping students in the Dance Program and the Art Department create innovative videos. He collaborated extensively with faculty, including Professor Laurie Beth Clark helping her create numerous video elements of her work and documenting installations.
In 1995, Clark was promoted to Manager of Video Production (Administrative Program Manger II) supervising three full-time academic staff and 8-10 students, managing income and expenditures and future developments in educational video. In addition to the leadership and administrative duties of the new position, Clark continued his work in the design and development of educational and general purpose videos for the School of Education and other clients. Clark is extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a wonderful group of talented and creative individuals. He trained and mentored countless student assistants, many of whom went on to prominent careers in the film industry, including positions at Pixar, Industrial Light and Magic and the Daily Show.
In 2008, the IMDC merged with the CIMC and the SoE IT office to Media, Education Resources and Information Technology (MERIT). The field of video production has also changed a great deal over the last 30 years. First, with the adoption of digital media editing, followed by digital cameras and most recently HD technology. Clark has led MERIT through the changing technology landscape with thoughtful planning and timely purchases to avoid obsolete technology, while keeping image quality his highest priority.
More recently, Clark helped the School of Ed launch its YouTube channel and worked with the External Relations Office to create “SoE TV,” an interview show hosted by Associate Dean, Dawn Crim. He produced numerous promotional videos, including videos for Rehabilitation Psychology, Elementary Education, Athletic Training and Dance. Currently, Clark is working to create videos for the Wisconsin Act 31 American Indian Studies project, which received a Baldwin Grant through the Provost’s Office.
As a strong advocate of shared governance, Clark has participated at the school and university levels. He has been a member of the school’s Committee on Service and Outreach (COSA) which he co-chaired in 2002-03, and Academic Staff Assembly Representative from 1997-99. Clark has also been a member of the School of Education Digital Video Committee, the Campus Communicators, and ComETS. In 2008, Clark collaborated with the campus-wide group, VITAL (Video in Teaching and Learning) to create a report analyzing the use of grassroots video at UW-Madison.
Professional Development and furthering the Wisconsin Idea are also a large part of Clark’s longstanding career. In 1989, Clark attended the Summer Institute on Media in Education at the University of London. Shortly afterward, he collaborated with Mimi Orner, Liz Ellsworth, and Rick Voithofer in the writing and development of “The Degrees of Difference: Culture Matters on Campus” video. The video was jointly presented by Clark and his co-authors at AERA 1998 in San Diego.
Clark Thompson has been instrumental in developing and supporting innovative initiatives in educational media on behalf of the School of Education for 30 years. His efforts to meet the demands in the constantly changing field of educational media are commendable. His connection to the University and the School of Education is unshakable. He plans to continue being a part of the vibrant University community for decades to come.