A Legacy of Leadership: Thanking Three Retiring Clery Center Board Members

A Legacy of Leadership: Thanking Three Retiring Clery Center Board Members

In the ever-changing world of campus safety, Clery Center has been a steadfast advocate for the well-being of students nationwide. Today, we extend our sincere appreciation to three exceptional individuals—Ben Clery, Gail Minger, and George Dowdall, Ph.D.—who, after years of dedicated service, have retired from Clery Center's Board of Directors. Their legacy of leadership has left an indelible mark on campus safety advocacy, shaping our organization's path and inspiring positive change. 

Ben Clery: A Family Legacy

Ben Clery is the brother of Jeanne Clery who was murdered at Lehigh University in April 1986. Ben served as a vice president, treasurer and board member of Clery Center from its inception in 1987 (then “Security On Campus”) to his retirement from the board earlier this year. 

During his tenure, Ben developed the Campus Watch newsletter and wrote the organization’s first grant proposals. He advocated for the U.S. House & Senate to support the Accuracy in Campus Crime Reporting Act and testified before the U.S. Education & Workforce Subcommittee about campus crime and disclosure problems. Ben is the owner of Penn-Del Appraisals, LLC and is a graduate of Tulane University.

For Ben, the work of Clery Center was not just a mission—it's a powerful and personal family legacy. Ben has been deeply devoted to honoring the memory of his late sister, and the work of his late father, Howard, and his mother, Connie, to fuel positive change on campuses nationwide. Ben brought a unique perspective that intertwined personal dedication with a broader commitment to the safety of every student. Ben's decades of advocacy for the cause ensures that Clery Center's impact will endure for generations to come. In special recognition and deep appreciation of distinguished service, the board of directors appointed Ben as an Emeritus Board Member upon his retirement.

Gail Minger: A Mother's Resilience 

Gail Minger became an advocate for campus fire and life safety following the tragic death of her son, Michael, at age 19 in an arson dormitory fire in 1998.  In the state of Kentucky, where Michael lost his life, Gail actively worked on legislation and successfully passed the Michael Minger Act in 2000. Her impactful efforts earned her the Jeanne Clery Award for her dedication to enhancing safety on college campuses, and in 2002, she received the Consumer Safety Award from the Kentucky Association of Trial Attorneys.

In 2007, Gail was appointed chairperson to the Governor’s Task Force on Campus Safety in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Minger family established the Michael H. Minger Memorial Foundation in 2005—a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting campus fire safety through education and improving safety standards on campuses—of which Gail is president. Gail is also on the board of Common Voices, has made three documentaries — including The Alarming Truth with Clery Center — and has been a national spokesperson for campus fire safety for over 20 years. 

As a Clery Center board member, Gail brought not only her personal experience but also a deep understanding of the impact that effective safety measures can have on a community. Her legacy—and Michael’s—carries on in the countless lives touched by her advocacy and the enduring impact of her dedication to creating safer campus environments. The power of her personal story has been, and will continue to be, a true inspiration.

Dr. George W. Dowdall: A Scholarly Voice for Safety

George W. Dowdall, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Saint Joseph’s University and serves as an adjunct fellow at the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania. His extensive research portfolio encompasses topics such as mental health, substance abuse, and research methods. George earned his doctorate in sociology from Brown University and later became a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA School of Public Health. In 2000, he was named the American Sociological Association’s Congressional Fellow. Throughout his career, George has held faculty or visiting positions at various institutions, including Indiana, Buffalo State, UCLA, Saint Joseph’s, Penn, Brown, and the Harvard School of Public Health.

George brought a valuable academic perspective to Clery Center's board. His research and expertise have played a pivotal role in shaping evidence-based initiatives aimed at creating safer campuses. We are grateful for his profound influence and enduring contributions that will continue to guide our work and mission.

As we close out 2023, we pause to acknowledge Ben, Gail, and George’s remarkable legacies. Their years of service, advocacy, and leadership have helped shape Clery Center into a beacon for campus safety. The impact of their dedication will continue to resonate, guiding us toward a future where every student can pursue their education in a safe and secure environment. We extend our deepest gratitude to these retiring board members for their outstanding contributions and wish them well in their future endeavors.