“He had a wide experience in the work of consolidation of schools in western Kansas; was an advisor to school boards in connection with school bond issues; and it was said that he knew more about taxation for schools than any other person in Kansas. Rarick was probably more widely known in western Kansas than any other man in education, or any other field, and was in great demand as a public speaker.”–James Forsythe, The First 75 Years: Fort Hays State University (1977).
Clarence Edmund Rarick was born March 17, 1879, on a homestead three miles northwest of Glen Elder, Kansas. He was the son of George and Delilah (Ranshaw) Rarick, his father was of Welsh and his mother of Irish descent. The stone house in which he was born had two rooms. After Clarence’s birth his father decided to follow the family tradition and in 1881 he sold the farm to be a circuit riding preacher.
In 1895 Clarence graduated from Smith Center High School. To meet the expenses for further schooling, he tried for and won an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, which he entered on June 18, 1900. But after a few months he resigned. Rarick’s family background consisted of ministers and teachers, and he decided to pursue a teaching career also.
On June 12, 1904, Rarick married May Jewell in Osborne. Their three children, Margaret, Lois, and Lawrence, were born there and received bachelor degrees from Fort Hays State University. Their father received a bachelor’s degree from Kansas Wesleyan University, who later also granted him an honorary doctor of education degree.
Rarick also did considerable graduate work in 1915 at the University of Colorado and in 1916, 1929, and 1930 at the University of Kansas. He was a rural schoolteacher for a time and spent a year as principal at Portis. Rarick then taught in Osborne from 1912 to 1919. He was Rooks County, Kansas, County Superintendent of Schools and school superintendent at Plainville, Stockton, and Osborne. In 1919, Rarick joined the faculty of Fort Hays State College.
While a professor at the college Rarick was a member of the National Council of Education, the Kansas State Board of Education, the Kansas State School Code Commission, the Kansas Academy of Science, Pi Gamma Mu, Pi Delta Kappa, and served as president of the Kansas State Teachers’ Association. Rarick wrote the final report for the School Code Commission, which advised major reforms in Kansas education, and was the author of the influential essay Transportation Costs in Schools of Western Kansas.
During the latter half of 1933 Rarick was named acting president of Fort Hays State. On November 30, 1934, he was appointed president in full. Rarick led the college successfully through the financially-strapped years of the Great Depression. Under his leadership a liberal arts curriculum was formally adopted, and the teacher’s college became officially Fort Hays State University. He also appointed George V. Sternberg curator of the university’s museums. Securing the world-renowned paleontologist gave the university instant credibility in several fields and moved it to the forefront world-wide in helping to understand the evolution of life on Earth.
President Rarick served as the voice of western Kansas education for eight years until his untimely death on August 1, 1941. He was buried in Saint Joseph Cemetery at Hays. Rarick Hall on the campus of Fort Hays State University was named in memory of this dedicated educator.