From Staff and Wire Reports
COLUMBIA, S.C. —
Jim Clements, president of West Virginia University since 2009, will take the helm at Clemson University in January, the school announced Monday.
Clements, 49, will become Clemson’s 15th president, Board of Trustees Chairman David Wilkins said in announcing the selection in Clemson. He succeeds Jim Barker, who announced plans in April to retire after 14 years and become an architecture professor at the school.
Barker has agreed to remain as president until Clements takes over, Wilkins said. WVU officials say that in the coming days, they will announce interim leadership as well as a permanent plan moving forward.
WVU Board of Governors chairman James W. Dailey II released a statement following the announcement, thanking Clements for his service since 2009 and wishing him the best as he moves on in his career.
“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,” Dailey said. “The Clemson Tigers are getting a national-caliber leader who we know will always carry the Mountaineer spirit in his heart.”
Clemson spokeswoman Robin Denny said Clements was selected from among 83 candidates. Wilkins noted that he’ll come from a land-grant university, so he understands Clemson’s mission. Clements’ national roles include chairman-elect of the Council of Presidents of the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities.
Clemson will match Clements’ salary at WVU of $775,000 through public and private funds, Wilkins said. The state’s Agency Head Salary Commission will determine how much of that will be funded by taxpayers.
In a statement, Clements said: “We are so excited to be joining the Clemson family. Clemson is one of the greatest public land-grant research universities in the country.”
Wilkins praised Clements’ job at West Virginia University, saying the college set records in private fundraising, enrollment and research funding during his tenure. The university is in the midst of nearly $1 billion in construction projects on campus, its university health system and student housing.
Clements previously worked as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Towson University in Maryland.
Clements’ background is in computer science. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in operations analysis from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, as well as a master’s in computer science from Johns Hopkins University. He chaired the department of computer and information sciences at Towson, according to information from Clemson.
Clements said in a letter released by WVU after the announcement he hadn’t been looking to leave West Virginia University and that when Clemson officials initially called, he said only that he loved his job. Three of his four children attend West Virginia University.
“When my family arrived at WVU we didn’t realize how much we would fall in love with the state and the university. Beth and I knew that it would be very difficult for any university to convince us to leave WVU,” he said in the letter. “However, after much thought, reflection and prayer, Beth and I decided that this is an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.”
Clements spoke highly of the university’s role in his children’s lives, as well as the Monongalia County school system.
“Three of our children currently attend WVU and they love it,” Clements wrote. “Our son is in his fourth year at WVU and will graduate soon. Our twin daughters recently graduated from Morgantown High School. They are now enjoying their first semester at WVU.”
He noted that his wife’s family lives near Clemson and her two brothers and sister-in-law are Clemson graduates. That proximity to an extended family will be important for the Clements’ youngest child, he explained.
“Our youngest daughter Grace, who has special needs, did well at North Elementary School and Suncrest Middle School. She has been surrounded by loving and kind friends,” he wrote. “However, as she enters the next phase of her life we believe that having her extended family close to her is something that will be very important.”
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin also offered best wishes to the Clements family.
“When President Clements came to West Virginia University, he brought with him an air of excitement about the future of our land-grant institution,” Tomblin said in a release distributed Monday afternoon. “Since then, he has built upon the university’s strengths — bringing new opportunities to both WVU’s students and our state. I’m grateful for President Clements’ service and I wish him and his wife Beth and their children much success at Clemson.”