The Times West Virginian

Opinion

November 13, 2013

Clements has made lasting mark on WVU and local area

We expected an announcement of the departure of a high-ranking West Virginia University official for several days.

But it was athletic director Oliver Luck, not president Jim Clements, we expected to leave. And it was for Texas and not for Clemson.

In a move that apparently came out of nowhere, WVU will be looking to name its fifth president in nearly as many years as Clements announced Monday that he would be leaving the helm of the state’s flagship school to lead Clemson, a smaller land-grant institution in South Carolina.

It was apparently an unexpected move for Clements as well.

“I wasn’t looking to leave WVU,” Clements wrote in a letter to the community released by the university Monday afternoon. “In fact, when I first was called I simply responded that I love WVU, the students, faculty and staff and the community. However, after much thought, reflection and prayer, Beth and I decided that this is an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.”

West Virginia’s loss is certainly Clemson’s gain.

As WVU Board of Governors chairman James Dailey pointed out, since Clements came to the university in 2009, he has been instrumental in the success of the school, from fundraising goals, private giving, enrollment, academics, research funding, health care, community service, economic development and much more.

“Jim is a natural born leader — someone who understands the higher education climate,” Dailey said in a statement also released Monday. “He is committed to excellence. He stands for integrity and is a champion for this university and its diverse audiences — from students and their parents, to faculty and staff, to donors and funders, to city, state and federal lawmakers, to opinion leaders, to our state’s citizens and others.

“The bottom line: He understands how a public land-grant university changes lives — and he has brought people together to make that mission a very powerful one on our campus.”

Accomplishments during Clements’ tenure include a move to a major athletic conference, a boost in the number of faculty, records in private fundraising and individual donor contributions, increased enrollment and research funding. And between construction projects on campus, the university health system, a proposed ballpark and student housing, there’s nearly $1 billion being invested in Morgantown and North Central West Virginia.

We do believe Clements was the right man for the job when he was hired in 2009. Though this was his first position as president of a university, his background from Towson University was impressive and the WVU governorship took a chance on a young leader with a great deal of potential. He proved that the decision was the right one to make.

As we join the WVU community in wishing the Clements family the best in this career move — and we sincerely do — we trust that the leaders of WVU will bring in the next president who will most certainly be the right person for the university at the right time.

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