Transformative Experience


When James C. Clemmer '86 arrived at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts -   then North Adams State College - in the fall of 1982, he knew that he had made the right decision in selecting the College. Little did he know how much impact that decision would have on the rest of his life.

Clemmer, who serves on the College's Board of Trustees, is the president of medical supplies at Covidien Ltd., a leading $10 billion global healthcare products company.

"My family couldn't afford a private school, and I wasn't able to get a scholarship - academic or athletic - to one of the big-name schools," he said. "When I visited MCLA, it was obviously an easier choice over all of the other state colleges. It had the major I was interested in, but it also had a small town feel about it. I got a private school education at a public school price tag."

A business administration major, Clemmer attributes his success to the preparation he received at the College.

"The business department is small, but it's really good," he said. "I was well prepared and able to compete against people with much more prestigious degrees. One of the most important things I learned during my time at the College was how to learn and apply knowledge and understanding. I learned the essentials and developed a set of discipline and intellectual curiosity. It was as if a light bulb went off when I was there."

At Covidien, Clemmer oversees the day-to-day operations of the Nursing Care, Monitoring & OR Products and OEM divisions. He is responsible for $1 billion of revenue and the growth of operating income, and oversees five manufacturing locations and the research and development operations.

"I've been very fortunate in business because of my time at the College, but the most important thing I got from MCLA is my best friends in life," he said. "We are all still very close - like brothers. We've been going on a golf outing every year for the last 15 years. It's more about getting together than playing golf. Some of us are teachers, others are in business like I am, but these are the same guys I played intramurals and rugby with. And, the bonds are tighter than ever before."