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Alice Clark retires from University of Mississippi after 40 years of service

Alice Clark, vice chancellor for university relations at the University of Mississippi, has retired after nearly four decades of service.

Clark is an F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Pharmacognosy, and earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees in pharmacognosy at Ole Miss. She joined the university as a research associate and faculty member in 1979. She later served as the first director of the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research.

During Clark’s time at the university, the NCNPR grew from a small unit to one of the world’s preeminent research centers for natural products drug discovery. The success of NCNPR has led to longstanding collaborative partnerships with industry and federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“It was my privilege to work for 35 years with Alice in various capacities – as a collaborator when she was professor in pharmacognosy, as associate director during her time as director of the NCNPR and as a researcher under her leadership in the administration,” Larry Walker, who took over as NCNPR director after Clark, said in a news release. “She has been a great pillar in this university, with vision, boundless energy and drive to excel. But on top of all that, she’s a mentor to me and to so many, and a cherished friend.”

Clark became the university’s first vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs in 2001. In this role, she championed the university’s research enterprise while overseeing its growth with strategic vision, according to a statement from the university.

The results of these efforts helped the university attain R1: Highest Research Activity designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education, the definitive honor for doctoral research universities in the United States, which represents only 2.5 percent of universities nationwide.

A renowned pharmaceutical scientist, Clark has published extensively on the discovery of novel biologically active natural products and pharmaceuticals, authoring and co-authoring more than 100 original research articles, reviews and book chapters. As a principal investigator, she received continuous peer-reviewed NIH funding from 1984 to 2014 to conduct research related to the discovery and development of new drugs for opportunistic infections. The grant, one of the longest continually funded antifungal research programs in NIH history, led to the identification of many new natural products.

Her late husband, Charles D. Hufford, associate dean emeritus for research and graduate programs and professor emeritus of pharmacognosy, was a longtime collaborator. In total, Clark secured more than $20 million in research support during her time at the university.

Clark’s work has informed public policy at the federal and state levels. She has testified to Congress on issues related to antimicrobial resistance and the safety and quality of dietary supplements.

After 38-plus years of service, Clark said she is looking forward to a slower pace and spending lots of time on her new back porch that is under construction. She also said she expects to burn up the roads to Huntsville, Jackson and Nashville to spend time with her beloved family.

“I am deeply grateful for the wonderful opportunities given to me to serve the University of Mississippi in many ways… and for the rich and fulfilling life I’ve enjoyed as a result of being part of this extraordinary community,” Clark said. “Coming to Ole Miss as a graduate student changed the course of my life. It has been a privilege and honor to work with some of the finest, most dedicated people anywhere who are committed to providing such opportunities to others.”