Clark Greene has spent a career serving behind the scenes in state government … as deputy chief of staff for Governors Carcieri and Almond, in top positions at the Departments of Human Services and Health and, most recently, as chief of staff for Deborah Gist at the Department of Education.
Now he’s taken a more public role – as temporary head of the Department of Higher Education. He refused the title of “interim commissioner,” but will be filling that role in coming months.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee referred to Greene’s move to higher ed as a “loan” when it was announced in late July. That was by design, Greene said in a phone interview in August.
“I’m going to fulfill some of the administrative duties which would fall to the commissioner of higher education,” Greene said. But one of his duties will be to recruit someone to serve as commissioner, he said.
Greene, who lives on Prospect Street, said he’s up for the task.
“I’m currently the coordinator of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant” – a $50 million grant that involves five state agencies. “So I can manage large scale.”
He continued: “I’m really looking forward to the challenges. The biggest challenge right now is to creatively participate in the design of the future of the agency per the direction of the General Assembly.”
At the end of the 2012 legislative session, the General Assembly voted to combine the Board of Education and the Board of Higher Education into one panel. The two state departments that serve under those boards have been playing catch up ever since.
“They did articulate in the legislation that they wanted a better connection between K through 12 and higher ed as one way to improve overall education,” Greene said. “We’ve been working on some of those issues, sharing the data, but I’m very interested in rolling up my sleeves and finding out what more opportunities there could be.”