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Former President Max Lennon, 1940 – 2016

Archie Max Lennon, the 11th president of Clemson University, died on November 29, 2016.

A native North Carolinian, Lennon was born in Columbus County on September 27, 1940, to Denver H. and Mary Kelly Lennon. He attended Mars Hills College, graduating with an associate degree in agriculture, before going on to earn a bachelor of science at North Carolina State, where he returned to complete a Ph.D. in 1970.

Positions in academia included Texas Tech, University of Missouri-Columbia and Ohio State before he accepted the presidency of Clemson in 1986.

Lennon led the University’s first multimillion dollar capital campaign, which was responsible for raising more than $101 million. During his presidency, Clemson experienced unprecedented growth and success in research and private fundraising. The University’s research expenditures quadrupled and academic fundraising more than tripled.

President Lennon also advanced the concept of strategic planning at the University, which led to the identification of Universitywide priorities and goals, and a process for restructuring the University for the 21st century. His impact on campus can still be seen in projects and infrastructure such as the Brooks Center, Sullivan Wellness Center, Hunter Laboratory, Garrison Arena and the Fluor Daniel Building. His influence also exists in programs such as Communication Across the Curriculum and the University’s partnership with the Greenville Hospital System, as well as in the establishment of degree programs such as packaging science and landscape architecture.

After resigning in 1994, Lennon worked briefly with Eastern Foods, then accepted the presidency of Mars Hill College in 1995, where he served until 2002, when he resigned and became president of the Education and Research Consortium of the Western Carolinas.

He is survived by his wife Ruth and two children, Daniel R. Lennon ’91 and Robin Lennon Bylenga M ’91, and grandchildren.

*Clemson will host a Celebration of Life service at 2 p.m. Dec. 13 at the President’s Box in Memorial Stadium on the main campus.

The radical ideas and passion that resulted in a university

In my inaugural address at Commencement May 9, I spoke about the upcoming 125th anniversary of the University’s founding. In November 1889, the state of South Carolina officially accepted the terms of Thomas Green Clemson’s will to establish a scientific institution on the grounds of his Fort Hill home.

But the story of Clemson University begins much earlier than that. It started with a set of ideas and the passion to make them happen.

These were radical ideas for the mid-19th century:

  • The idea that education and research could lift a state and a people out of poverty and despair.
  • The idea that education should not be limited to an elite class.
  • The idea that institutions should serve their states and be engaged with their communities.

All of us at Clemson today are the beneficiaries of the vision — and the bequest — of our founders.

These ideas helped shape the Morrill Act of 1862, which created our national network of land-grant universities. Many of these ideas were actually developed, articulated and championed by Thomas Green Clemson. Mr. Clemson wrote and spoke often about the idea of scientific education as the path to prosperity. In the late 1860s he wrote, “Our condition is wretched in the extreme. There is, in my opinion, no hope for the South short of widespread scientific education.”

When his wife, Anna, preceded Thomas in death, she left him the land and her resources, which he later bequeathed to the state of South Carolina. This would be used to fund the college that came from their shared dreams — which he called a “high seminary of learning.”

All of us at Clemson today are the beneficiaries of the vision — and the bequest — of our founders.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, the landmark federal legislation that created the Cooperative Extension Service. Through that statewide network, the land-grant promise became a reality.

Like the Morrill Act, the Smith-Lever Act has a direct link back to Clemson. The national Extension network was based on the “Clemson model,” and Congressman Frank Lever, one of the co-authors of the legislation, was a Clemson trustee. He is buried in Woodland Cemetery, on our campus.

The connection among the Clemson will, the Act of Acceptance and the Smith-Lever Act is that they created a unique and permanent partnership between Clemson University and the state of South Carolina. That partnership distinguishes Clemson from every other institution of higher learning in the state.

In this partnership, those of us at Clemson make an important promise. We promise to make a difference, not just for our students, but also in the lives of all the people in this state. And we make a difference by holding true to three commitments.

First, we commit that we will provide the highest possible level of academic quality. Mr. Clemson wrote that this new education system “is the only hope for South Carolina, and … that it will give life, vigor and prosperity to unborn thousands … .” I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Clemson set the bar pretty high for all of us!

Second, we commit that our campus is the state of South Carolina. We pledge to be actively engaged in every county of South Carolina. Clemson has never been content to remain isolated behind a set of walls. We go where the problems are — where the opportunities are — and where the challenges are.

Third, we commit to support the state’s economic development. Mr. Clemson’s will speaks directly to our responsibility to the economic health of South Carolina. One of the ways we can help to deliver on this promise is through research and innovation.

Holding fast to these commitments will ensure that we meet the high standards set by Mr. Clemson to provide an outstanding education for our students and keep our promise to South Carolina.

I am honored to work alongside all of you to achieve these ambitious goals.

Go Tigers!

Jim Clements

The Family Man: An interview with Clemson’s 15th president

Jim Clements began his tenure as Clemson president at the Orange Bowl in Miami. It was clear then, as he shook hands, liberally gave out hugs and chatted with alumni, students and fans, what his personal style would be — casual, friendly and people-centered. He might be wearing a tie, but you’ll rarely see him with his suit coat. He may be running a few minutes late, but that’s usually because he’s trying to respond to one more question or comment, or hear a concern. He looks people in the eye, he asks their names. He listens. And he quotes his mother. You have to trust a man who quotes his mother.

Not to say that he isn’t intense or focused. But he’s listening as he begins his time here. Ten p.m. to midnight, you’ll usually find him on his computer, trying to keep up with the hundreds of emails that occupy the box of president@clemson.edu. “I’m running a few hundred behind right now, but I will get to them all,” he says.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with President Clements and ask a few questions.


Coming home to Clemson

What you need to know first about Beth Clements

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CW: SO NOW THAT YOU’VE BEEN HERE A FEW MONTHS, WHAT ARE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF CLEMSON? WERE THERE ANY SURPRISES?

JC: It’s a great place made up of incredible people and a beautiful campus, with a top-notch, high-quality education. Those weren’t surprises; that’s what we expected. That’s the reputation Clemson has.

And the family piece is special. For me, family is everything. We fit the Clemson Family, and we’re thrilled about the environment that is very family-oriented. We’re getting settled in, and we are thrilled to be here.

CW: YOU HAVE A BACKGROUND IN COMPUTER SCIENCE AND OPERATIONS ANALYSIS. HOW HAS THAT PREPARED YOU FOR BEING A COLLEGE PRESIDENT?

JC: Computer science classes, operations analysis classes and engineering classes teach you how to think. And in this role you have to spend a lot of time analyzing situations, thinking about how you’re going to proceed, making decisions. It’s helped me. This is a technology-driven world, so for me to be on Twitter and to have students following me, all that stuff helps.

CW: ARE THERE ADVANTAGES OR DISADVANTAGES OF COMING FROM A HIGH-TECH BACKGROUND?

JC: I think there are wonderful leaders with all types of different backgrounds. When I was a kid, I could play football all day and be as happy as can be. Or I could sit around and do math problems all day and be equally happy. The technology has helped me in my role, and the project management has helped me to get projects done on time and on budget and to think about things strategically.

CW: WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF LEADERSHIP?

JC: As a leader I try to surround myself with the best people I can — people who I can look into their eyes, know that they are good people, know that they can collaborate, know that they’re here to make a difference. It’s not about us, it’s about what we can do for others, so I try to surround myself with great people and get them to think big. In life we have a chance to make a difference. I want people who want to make a difference. One of the things that good leaders do is to surround themselves with people who are better, faster, smarter, stronger. You want to build an all-star team. We have the opportunity here to hire a couple of new people, and we will try to get the best people we can. We already have great people here, but any opportunity when we hire, we will hire great people.

CW: HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE DEMANDS ON YOU AS PRESIDENT, PROFESSOR, FATHER, HUSBAND, COMMUNITY MEMBER?

JC: Honestly, it’s not easy. In these kinds of roles, if you’re really in it to make a difference, and you really give it your all, you give a lot of yourself. I really don’t get a chance to go to the movies, and I don’t have time to watch TV. It’s always the University and family. That’s how I try to do it. I’m blessed to have a great wife, and I have great kids. They understand my role. I’ve been in these kinds of roles for a long time, and they understand the time that it takes. I try to balance the best I can, but honestly, it’s not easy because there are a lot of evening and weekend events. I try to get to all of the kids’ things when I can, and they’re great kids, and it’s all worked out. Beth plays a critical role in that, and she deserves a lot of credit.

CW: AND ONE OF YOUR DAUGHTERS IS NOW A CLEMSON TIGER, CORRECT?

JC: Yes. We have four kids. Tyler is 21, and he’s at West Virginia. We have identical twin girls, Hannah and Maggie. Hannah and Maggie were in the honors program at WVU; Hannah transferred here and is studying special education. Maggie stayed back in West Virginia because she has a horse, a dog and a boyfriend, and really likes it there. She is studying elementary education. Then our youngest daughter, Grace, is here. Grace is 13 and has special needs. She, we hope one day, will be in the ClemsonLIFE program. Grace is a very social person and loves to play sports, especially basketball.

CW: WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE CLEMSON IN FIVE YEARS? IN 10 YEARS?

JC: One of the things my mother taught me when I was a kid that I really appreciate — and she taught me a lot of important things — was to be a good listener. She said, “God gave you two ears and one mouth, so listen.” So I’m really trying to listen to what others think. I don’t have all the answers yet, but I’m spending time listening to faculty, staff and students, people on the campus and in the community. So it’s more what we view Clemson as being in five to 10 years than it is what I view Clemson as being in five to 10 years. I will say this: We’re on a great path. It’s a great University with a great national reputation, high-quality academics, low student-faculty ratios, and those are things we need to continue to push. We need to enhance our research profile. We need to hire some more good people and keep things moving, but I hope to learn a lot over the next days and weeks about where we go together. We have a great 2020 strategic plan, but it’s probably time to revisit that and make sure it still lines up with where we want to go. But again, it won’t be Jim’s strategic plan; it will be our strategic plan.

CW: THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO THINK THAT THE GROWTH IN ONLINE EDUCATION MEANS THAT IT WILL REPLACE PLACE-BASED EDUCATION IN THE FUTURE. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE FUTURE OF THE CAMPUS?

JC: It’s a great question, and nationally it’s a question that we’re all discussing in higher education.The ability for technology to enhance the educational process is clearly there; the technology is now probably where it needs to be. It’s being integrated into a lot of the curriculum, and it will be interesting to see where it goes. What we have to do is be a part of the discussion and not sit on the sidelines. We’re doing some really good things related to online education. But I don’t think the place-based educational format is going to go away. It’s just how you infuse technology and supplement what we’re already doing. So it’s not really an either/or: We’ll have place-based education, we’ll have technology-based education, and we’ll have integration of the two. And that’s what’s going to be exciting. The ability to reach more people with technology is important. So for access, affordability and outreach, technology becomes an important tool. Higher education has changed for decades and decades, and this is just the current stage that we’re in. But it will transform education in some ways.

CW: WHAT WOULD YOU IDENTIFY AS CLEMSON’S BIGGEST STRENGTH AS WELL AS OUR BIGGEST WEAKNESS AT THIS POINT?

JC: Great organizations are built on great people. This is a great University because we have great people; that’s the bottom line. Our greatest strength is based on the human capital that we have here. And what I have seen in my three months, we have really good people. They care, they want to make a difference, they are doing their best. They are overworked based on our level of resources, but they are making a difference.

What are our weaknesses? The one thing that jumps out at me is our facilities. We’ve got to improve our facilities. A third of our student housing is 25 years old, 25 percent of our student housing is 50 years old. We need some new facilities. We need new academic facilities. We need some new research facilities. We need some new athletic facilities. So there’s where we have an opportunity to improve.

CW: DO YOU SEE THE TOP-20 AS A CONTINUING GOAL FOR US? AND WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO ACHIEVE THAT?

JC: The top 20 is still a goal. It’s been a great goal. And I’ve tracked Clemson’s progress over a decade and a half over other institutions. We’ve made incredible steps forward to the top 20. We are currently sitting at number 21, tied with some great institutions. The top 20 are great universities. So yes, we are going to keep pushing, but that doesn’t mean at the expense of other things. We still need to push research. We still need to push facilities. We still need to do other things, but that will still be a goal. Getting there is not going to be easy, right? Moving from 38 where we were before, to 21 — not easy. It’s trying to figure the steps to move forward. And again, that’s a collaborative discussion that will be taking place on the campus.

CW: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE CLEMSON ALUMNI TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

JC: I always want people to know me first as a person. So I always talk about my family. I always talk about my background. I always like to mention that I was a first-generation college student. I think it is important for people to know that my grandparents had a fourth-grade, a sixth-grade, an eighth-grade, and we think one had a twelfth-grade education, but we don’t have any real proof of that. One of my grandfathers was a coal miner and the other one was a firefighter.

What they tried to instill in me was hard work. Follow through on your word, be ethical, give it your all. But they also tried to instill in me, my two older sisters and older brother that education is the key. If you want a better life, here is your path. My parents didn’t go to college. They didn’t have that opportunity. My grandparents didn’t have that opportunity. So for me, I got in the business of higher ed to make a difference, ultimately, as a professor. When I was in second grade, my teacher used to call me “professor,” and, by the way, I always say that’s the best job in the world. It’s better than being a university president. Being a professor is what I love. I love to teach. I love to do research. I love to work with students. But, I just wanted to make a difference. Somehow I got into a leadership role. But one day I’ll go back to the classroom and teach and do research.

Between my two older sisters, older brother and me, we have 11 college degrees: four undergraduate degrees, five master’s, two Ph.Ds. My brother and I finished our Ph.Ds side by side on stage, which was one of the happiest days of my parents’ lives.

This has given me the opportunity for a better life. Let me help others have that same opportunity. Education is good for the individual but also for society. We want an educated society. That’s why I got into higher ed — I just wanted to make a difference.

I want people to know me as me, and then I want them to know about my family, my wife, who will be a great asset to the University and the community, and our four great kids. Those are things, I think from the personal side, that are important for people to know.

President Clement’s First 100 Days



A Message from Clemson’s 15th President

I am thrilled to be named the 15th president of Clemson University. I want to thank the Board of Trustees and the search committee for this incredible opportunity and for believing in me and my family. It is obvious that the board really loves this University and cares very deeply about it. Their love and passion for Clemson are contagious.

One of the things that excited us so much about Clemson is that this is a family-oriented place, and the phrase “Clemson Family” means something very special. As one of the greatest public land-grant research universities in the country, Clemson has a wonderful history and a bright future. It is highly respected for being a student-centered campus that provides a top-notch, high-quality education while producing world-class research and vital services to the community.

Clockwise, from left: Maggie, a freshman at WVU; Grace, a seventh grader; Tyler, a fourth-year student at WVU; Hannah, a freshman at Clemson; Jim; and Beth Clements

Clockwise, from left: Maggie, a freshman at WVU; Grace, a seventh grader; Tyler, a fourth-year student at WVU; Hannah, a freshman at Clemson; Jim; and Beth Clements

The Clemson Family is not something new to me. Beth’s family lives near the University, and her two brothers and a sister-in-law are graduates of Clemson. For more than two decades, I have seen how passionate they are about this place — and how thankful they are for the great education they received here. Our youngest daughter, Grace, has special needs, and 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.

I am humbled to walk in the footsteps of so many great presidents who have served at the University. I have been a big fan of President Jim Barker for a long time. He is highly respected across the country for his leadership, and he is also lucky to have a wonderful partner in First Lady Marcia Barker. I can promise you that Beth and I will rely on the Barkers’ advice and guidance in the years to come.

Clemson truly is a gem in higher education. I look forward to working with our elected officials and business leaders to promote economic and workforce development. I believe that working together — as one team — is the only way we can succeed.

When I was a kid my mother always told me to be a good person and to make a difference. I promise you that I will do my very best — working with you — to fulfill the vision set forth by Thomas Green Clemson.

Go Tigers!

James P. Clements

EDUCATION

  • B.S., Computer Science; M.S., Ph.D, Operations Analysis, University of Maryland Baltimore County. M.S., Computer Science, Johns Hopkins University

CAREER

  • West Virginia University, president and professor of computer science and electrical engineering, 2009–2013
  • Towson University (Maryland), provost and vice president for academic affairs, 2007–2009; vice president for economic and community outreach, 2004–07; executive director for the Center for Applied Information Technology, 1999–2003; professor of computer and information sciences, 2000–2009; chair, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, 1997–1999; associate professor, 1995–2000; assistant professor, 1993–1995; visiting assistant professor, 1989–1993

NATIONAL LEADERSHIP POSITIONS

  • Chair-elect, Board of Directors, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities; co-chair, APLU Energy Forum
  • Chair, American Council on Education’s Commission on Leadership
  • Business Higher Education Forum
  • Council on Competitiveness
  • U.S. Department of Commerce Innovation Advisory Board

The Idea of Clemson

Fourteen years ago, James Barker approached the podium for his inaugural address. Unlike many new presidents, he already had a fairly comprehensive understanding of the institution. After all, “president” was just the most recent of his Clemson monikers. Student, alumnus, faculty member, dean, parent — he had already experienced the University from all of those perspectives.

As he reflected with those in attendance on “The Idea of Clemson,” it was from a very well-informed perch. In an address that was forward-looking and optimistic and challenging, he examined nine qualities — of being inclusive, academically challenging, visionary, indomitable, bold and innovative, distinctive, sensitive to the needs of others, focused on the value of the individual and based on family — that he said described the “wonderful, powerful, noble idea called Clemson.”

“The most important ideas,” he said, “have a physical manifestation. The idea of Clemson surrounds you today in the ‘sense of place’ and ‘sense of community’ you can see and feel on this campus.” He went on to say, “To all gathered here today, I say that with everything I am, I believe in the idea called Clemson. But Clemson is still a work in progress.”

And the charge that Jim Barker accepted at his inauguration was “to ensure that the idea of Clemson will be stronger at the end of my service than it is now at the beginning.” In what is known now as characteristic Barker, he stated his strong conviction that “the only way to fulfill this responsibility is to find the way for each of you to join me in this effort.”

With that statement, and the one that followed, he launched the idea of “One Clemson.”

“I am convinced,” Barker said, “that there is no university in America stronger than Clemson when we are ‘one Clemson.’ … If we unite around the idea of Clemson, we have a future beyond our highest aspirations.”

After referencing the legacy and destiny of the University, President James Barker finished by simply saying, “Let’s get started.”

And get started he did. In the next few pages, alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends share their reflections on the ways in which Jim Barker’s presidency advanced what he called “The Idea of Clemson.”

In my humble opinion, James Barker and R.C. Edwards were the best presidents to have served Clemson in any time or season, but especially this was the case when it came to their steadfast leadership surrounding issues of race relations.

Dr. Edwards’ leadership during Harvey Gantt’s 1963 enrollment is well documented and widely known. What many may not know, however, is the quiet, dignified and determined way that President Barker built on President Edwards’ legacy to garner Clemson the coveted reputation as one of the nation’s premier institutions for tackling very complex and vexing issues surrounding diversity in higher education.

Three such initiatives that he led include:

• The visionary Call Me MISTER program: No one really knew what to do about the chronic black male teacher crisis until this program unfolded. It is the national model.

• The National Best Practices Conference in the Achievement of Students of Color: Poor retention of all students had been one of higher education’s ugly secrets for many years.

This challenge was most acute among black students. After more than a decade, this annual gathering has become the gold standard for identifying solutions to this persistent problem. President Barker has participated in every minute of every session. He thus created an indelible impression about Clemson on the minds of the thousands of leaders from across the nation.

• Black faculty recruitment: With the appointment of Dr. Juan Gilbert as chair of Human-Centered Computing and later as the first Presidential Endowed Chair, President Barker has done what many in higher education, industry and government thought to be impossible. Recruiting and retaining black faculty is intensely competitive in all disciplines, but especially in science, technology and mathematics. In short order, Clemson now has the largest concentration of black computer science faculty and Ph.D students in the nation. This could not have happened without President Barker’s leadership.

These accomplishments have truly been game changers in terms of how Clemson is perceived across the nation and around the world. President Barker’s singular ability to do the right thing while institutionalizing positive outcomes will hold Clemson in good stead for decades to come.


Frank Matthews


— Frank L. Matthews ’71
Co-Founder, Cox Matthews and Associates
Publisher, Diverse Issues in Higher Education

During most of President Jim Barker’s tenure as president of Clemson, I served as the director of the National Scholars Program, which was inaugurated by President Barker in 2000. “To be a national university,” he said at the time, “we must have a national-caliber scholarship program, and this is it.”

For me, the National Scholars Program symbolizes Clemson’s extraordinary academic and intellectual growth during Jim Barker’s presidency. To create the program called for extraordinary vision and for enormous faith in Clemson’s students, staff and faculty. To sustain it required a continuing commitment to providing the resources necessary to recruit, educate and challenge some of our very best students. Finally, to establish the program as a vital and integral part of Clemson’s culture required President and Mrs. Barker’s personal involvement and support. Jim and Marcia have been at nearly every important National Scholars event. They have entertained every group of National Scholars freshmen at their home. And they have made it clear to everyone at Clemson that the National Scholars Program — and the Calhoun Honors College as well — are both key symbols and very real products of Clemson’s commitment to academic excellence.


William Lasser


— William Lasser
Alumni Distinguished Professor of Political Science
Director, Calhoun Honors College

I believe that President Barker’s commitment to elevate the academic standards of Clemson, to lead with transparency and to be accessible to the entire Clemson family, especially to students, is second to none. Although I did not attend Clemson, I have worked here for 41 years, and it has been so rewarding during President Barker’s tenure to watch the University develop from an excellent regional university to one that is highly ranked nationally and well-respected. All Clemson alumni, and past and present faculty and staff, are proud that a degree from Clemson means much more now than in the past.

In addition to being a masterful architect of so many academic innovations and accomplishments, President Barker’s handprint is obvious in the improvements on the facility and the landscaping that have occurred during his tenure as president.

I will always be grateful to President Barker for the wonderful support that he has given the arts programs at Clemson, for no university can be considered great without having a strong program in the arts. He and Clemson’s gracious first lady attended performances at the Brooks Center as often as their schedules would allow. President and Mrs. Barker leave huge shoes to fill.


Mickey Harder


— Mickey Harder
Director, Brooks Center for the Performing Arts

“Do you wish to be great?” St. Augustine once asked. “Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundations.”

Fourteen years ago, Jim Barker set out to build a better university. He had a vision that Clemson could be a nationally recognized public institution. The fact that President Barker’s lofty vision for Clemson has been realized is certainly commendable by itself. But the most compelling part of the story is not about the obvious success President Barker has achieved, but rather how he went about achieving it. He met the challenge posed by St. Augustine to the faithful so many centuries ago — he stayed grounded in humility — built a foundation on it — even as Clemson soared.

History is replete with examples of powerful leaders who are larger than life, whose force of personality makes them irresistible to watch; leaders who are at their best and most dynamic when the spotlight shines the brightest on them. Few of us equate power, much less success, to those who turn the spotlight away from themselves. And yet, that is exactly how President Barker has achieved such remarkable success as one of the longest-serving college presidents in the U.S. He is always ready to lead and always reluctant to take credit. His humility encouraged and enabled other talented people to work on Clemson’s behalf — all headed in the same direction, all following his lead.

He and Marcia were always exceedingly gracious, greeting students, parents and staff as warmly as they did visiting dignitaries and VIPs. They represented Clemson globally and championed the University in prestigious venues. But he and Marcia were just as content — probably more so — opening their home at night to students who simply needed some support. He was comfortable walking the campus and cheering at games. He wanted Clemson to succeed on his watch, not because of his own personal investment or aggrandizement, but because when he went off to college as a young man, he went to Clemson. He wanted to give back better than he had received.

Today the University stands taller than ever, nationally recognized for its academics and athletics. It’s in the top tier of public schools — just as Jim Barker envisioned more than a dozen years ago when he began building a lasting foundation.

For Barker, it was always about Clemson rising tall, about generations of students crediting CU for providing a springboard to countless opportunities. It was never about his own legacy. Yet, history will undoubtedly record President Jim Barker’s rich contributions to Clemson, accolades the man himself is too humble to accept.


David Wilkins


— David Wilkins
Chair, Clemson University Board of Trustees

I have been privileged in my teaching career at Clemson University to have had James F. Barker as a student in my classes for three of his early semesters (one B, two A’s).

Few people have known that Jim Barker came to Clemson on a partial athletic scholarship. He was a pole-vaulter from Kingsport, Tennessee. Like his reticence to talk about his ability to draw, he seemed less inclined to review his brief career as a vaulter.

During his early years as a student in the school of architecture, he had an assignment, possibly in design or to test his creative inclinations. He visited my office and asked if I would take a look at his project. To me, Jim always had been a serious student. Naturally, I was flattered by his request. He unveiled plans and drawings for a city to be constructed in the area where South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina boundaries are contiguous. The overall concept was a layout of a series of concentric circles, in which each circle some function or activity — habitation, religion, education, civic government, business, medical, etc., would be planned. I was amazed at his vision.

Jim Barker’s vision has carried over to the planning and development of the Clemson University campus, which now impresses students, visitors and local residents.

I have always taken pride in and have admiration for my former student from Kingsport, Tennessee.


Ben Skardon


— Col. Ben Skardon ’38
Professor Emeritus of English

As I reflect on the presidency of Jim Barker, I am so very proud of the accomplishments that Clemson has achieved over the course of Jim’s administration. Under Jim’s leadership, Clemson has risen to become a top-25 public university. Jim aspires to see Clemson improve because he wants to see Clemson students have an opportunity to receive the best education possible.

Jim Barker is a man of integrity. He is a great visionary and great strategic planner. He leads with a core passion to put the students and their success first. Most importantly, this “down to earth” man loves Clemson University! Marcia Barker has been an incredible leader as well and a fantastic ambassador for Clemson. She leads with a very special style and grace, and she has made Clemson a much better university.

Clemson has been blessed by the Barkers!


Harvey Gantt


— Harvey B. Gantt
Principal, Gantt Huberman Architects

I have always admired Jim Barker as the essence of a true Clemson man. He proved my long-held belief that architects, because of their unique education and training, could go out into the world and do much more than design buildings. Jim and I have often reminisced on a speech I gave at the College of Architecture years ago. I spoke on the theme of how some of us student architects could one day leave Clemson to serve as leaders in society … because we were being trained to analyze problems, examine alternatives, choose a way forward, and execute a solution with conviction. In other words, we were trained to be leaders, in our design firms, in civic life, in politics, in business, and even to lead a great university … like Clemson. Jim was in that audience when I spoke, and says he was inspired. Wow!!! And he has gone on to build a great record as one of Clemson’s finest presidents and a great leader in education for South Carolina.


Smyth McKissick


— E. Smyth McKissick III
Clemson University Trustee

Jim Barker is well-known for his intense interest and caring spirit for the well-being of Clemson students. What is not so well-known is his unique ability to manifest that same level of interest for campus organizations that are not an integral part of the University’s core mission of teaching and research.

I witnessed this during the past two years as IPTAY went through a reorganization. Early in the process we sought guidance from President Barker. He maintained a high level of interest in IPTAY , and never failed to avail himself to us. As the IPTAY Board moved through our changes, we recognized that the new landscape of college athletics suggested more involvement of college presidents. President Barker was aware of this new trend, and embraced our idea to have him become an active member of the IPTAY Board.

Jim never hesitated to help IPTAY through these changing times and was fully engaged and supportive during my term as president. I saw firsthand why the Clemson Family has so completely embraced
the Barkers.


Charles Dalton


— Charles Dalton
President, IPTAY Board of Directors

Jim Barker is one of the finest individuals I know, and I’m incredibly appreciative of what he’s meant to me both personally and professionally during my time as ACC commissioner.

As I look back over his tenure as president of Clemson University, it’s important to note that his fingerprints are all over the many monumental milestones that have happened within the ACC . From the league’s expansion in 2003, through the latest expansions and the grant of media rights, Jim has been instrumental in strategically positioning the Atlantic Coast Conference for the long term.

There’s no question that Jim is one of the most well-respected presidents, not only in the ACC but also across the NCAA landscape. As an educator and leader, he is insightful, thoughtful and brings tremendous wisdom.

Jim has become one of my most trusted advisers, and I’m thankful for the friendship we’ve developed over the years.

I wish Jim, Marcia and the entire Barker family nothing but health and happiness in the years ahead.


John Swofford


— John Swofford
ACC Commissioner

I first met my architecture classmate, the future president James F. Barker, on Riggs Field in August of 1965. Riggs served as the track at that time, and Jim was practicing his event, the pole vault. My first Clemson roommate was the other freshman vaulter, and he was excited to introduce me to his teammate since, he surmised, we had so much in common as architecture majors. Little did he know that this thoughtful introduction would lead to a lifetime of collegiality marked by true friendship.

As we approached the field from the south stands, Jim picked up his pole, took a deep breath and ran at full speed toward the box, the bar and the pit. Jim planted the pole perfectly in the box, leaned back with all his strength and swung his body skyward into a handstand with amazing grace. Then, the pole shattered. The sound was like a rifle’s blast echoing off Holtzendorff and the Barracks. All motion stopped and all eyes turned to the vaulting pit. Seeming unfazed by the disruption, Jim continued the backward flow of his body, executed a perfect back flip and landed on his feet in the pit. Still holding a four-foot piece of the offending instrument, he strode out to greet his teammate and his classmate with a broad smile as if to ask: “How’d you like that?”

Occasionally I will retell this story as I introduce President Barker and I like to add: “and he’s been landing on his feet ever since.”


John Jacques


— John Jacques ’70, AIA, CAF Director
Professor Emeritus of Architecture

From my perspective, the most significant contribution made by Jim Barker during my tenure as vice president for research and economic development was to articulate the “Top Twenty” Vision, and hold us accountable for it. The vision was compelling, succinct, memorable and measurable. It galvanized our thinking about Clemson University as a distinctive, national research university, guided our strategic planning and drove our implementation. The quarterly “Report Card” measured our progress.

For me, the second most important concept by Jim was to challenge us to develop a “Town/Gown” relationship with the City of Greenville.

These two bold ideas set in motion the deliberations and strategies which culminated in CU-ICAR and the other innovation campuses. As we worked on developing the practical implications of public/private partnerships that were aligned with the University’s core academic missions of teaching and research, and fostered economic development for South Carolina, Jim was personally engaged in these discussions. As the physical campus of CU-ICAR was designed and built, he brought his architectural background to the design charrettes. It was a personal privilege for me to tour the CGEC with Jim, and have him give me a passionate description of the sight lines and the architectural highlights of the building.

Finally, from a personal perspective, I could not have asked for a more supportive and encouraging president than Jim Barker. Recognizing the very high risks associated with such a bold idea as CU-ICAR , he consistently was the “champion” with our Board of Trustees, our state legislators and the Greenville community. I consider it a great honor and privilege to have spent the last nine years of my professional career serving under President James F. Barker.


Chris Prizembel


— Christian E.G. Przirembel
Vice President Emeritus for Research and Economic Development

It would be easy to rhapsodize about Jim Barker’s intelligence, his dedication and his humaneness. But anyone who has been near Clemson University in the last dozen years knows about all that.

So I add this comment: Throughout his presidency, Jim taught a course called “The President’s Seminar.” It met on Tuesday afternoons each spring and included about 15 students from several different disciplines. And it included six or eight faculty who, along with the president, made presentations and joined discussions. I was lucky enough to get in on it, and I count it as one of the best experiences of my 38 years at Clemson. As I look back on that seminar, I realize that, except for his Tiger Paw cuff links and ties, Jim did not appear to be president of anything. He was just a part of the general fray. Maybe he was so good with the students because he had been a Clemson student himself; maybe he was so good with the faculty because he had been on the faculty — and was still on the faculty. Whatever the cause, he was one of us, and we loved it.


Bill Koon


— Bill Koon
Professor Emeritus of English

“One Clemson” was more than a motto to President Jim Barker. He truly wanted the academic and athletic communities to merge and achieve a unified pride in Clemson University. That’s where Solid Orange came from — speaking to our traditions and how we conduct ourselves to understand our part in making the University strong. He worked hard to create an environment of unity when so many campuses across the country experience disunity.

He not only talked about supporting athletics, but as a former student-athlete, he is competitive. He and Marcia would attend many, many sporting events; they welcomed student-athletes regularly into the President’s Home, and knew most of our coaches and staff by name. You could count on seeing their Labs, Macs and Mookie, at rowing meets. In addition to an already full schedule with campus responsibilities, he chose to be involved with the NCAA at the national level.

He entered his tenure with extremely high athletic goals, targeting national success especially for football and men’s basketball. We’re all proud that under President Barker’s leadership, Clemson football has returned to the Top 10, won three divisional championships and the first outright conference championship in 20 years.

While men’s basketball at Clemson had historically struggled, President Barker’s support enabled our program to enjoy some unparalleled success and continuing progress — specifically, four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, a first in Clemson history.

Certainly, Clemson enjoyed success and significant progress in other sports as well, but I find it fitting that as a track letterman, his final spring as president included Brianna Rollins’ thrilling individual national championship at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and our men’s and women’s track programs again competing at the highest level.

What’s refreshing about the athletic success is that it was accomplished with President Barker’s high academic expectations as well. While Clemson’s student-athlete academic performance has been strong in the past, it became measurably stronger in all sports the past decade.

Jim Barker gave our athletic program his support, his vision and his energy. He gave us “One Clemson.”


Terry Don Phillips


— Terry Don Phillips
Former Clemson Athletics Director

Jim Barker’s passion for being a president who was devoted to public service became evident within his first 100 days in office. He took teams of his administrative group on two trips across South Carolina to meet the people who love Clemson dearly but rarely get to the main campus. He continued that enthusiasm for engaging with the public throughout his time as president.

He extended that commitment to public service when the University embarked on the creation of “new” enterprise campuses in locations across the state. His brand of economic development was to take the University to where the action was located. This idea has led to one of the country’s most relevant and successful university technology-based economic development strategies. Jim’s unique ability to engage with the state’s citizens has allowed Clemson University to maintain a strong sense of reality as we do our daily work.


John Kelly


— John Kelly
Vice President for Economic Development

In early May 2006 a senior, Travis Rada, realized he was an hour short of graduating. Travis’ mother, Janet, was very ill with cancer, and he had lost track of his hours since he had been trying to spend as much time with his mom as possible. Travis took the course during Maymester to complete his requirements to graduate in August. But the doctors had told Janet that she probably wouldn’t be alive in August. Through all of Janet’s cancer treatments, her one goal had been to see Travis graduate from Clemson, and Patrick, her youngest son, graduate from T.L. Hanna High School, both that May.

With the help of registrar Stan Smith, President Barker presented Travis with a certificate of completion on June 1, 2006. The ceremony took place in the President’s Office with Travis’ parents, brother and grandparents present, Travis in his cap and gown and President Barker in his academic regalia. Less than six weeks later, I attended the memorial service for Janet Rada. Front and center of all the pictures that were placed on the table to honor Janet’s memory was the photograph of President Barker and Travis in their academic regalia and Travis’ proud family members.


Sandy McKinney


— Sandy McKinney
Executive Assistant to the President

President Barker’s accomplishments at Clemson will leave a lasting impact on the future of the University. His consistent involvement with the student body has been a major factor in producing the “Clemson Experience” that is so often discussed. Students have been reflecting on their favorite memories with him, including times when he passed out lollipops at the Homecoming floats, opened his home for trick-or-treating on Halloween, allowed students to walk his dogs, did pushups as the Tiger mascot during a football game and helped with freshman move-in.

President Barker’s desire to make Clemson the best it can be, while preserving the rich heritage and traditions that make the Clemson experience so unique, is remarkable. Clemson’s success in the past decade is largely due to his leadership and unwavering values He will always be remembered as one of Clemson’s most outstanding and respected presidents, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him during these last few months of his presidency.


Kayle Seawright


— Kayley Seawright
President, Undergraduate Student Body

As I reflect over the past 14 years of Jim Barker’s tenure as president of Clemson University, two words, in particular, come to mind — Clemson Family. President Barker really does understand the meaning of these two words because he was reared in the family that is so proud to call him one of our own.

He possesses a deep sense of caring and placing the Clemson Family and, in particular, the current Clemson students first. His unwavering resolve has helped Clemson remain a “high seminary of learning” just as Clemson’s founder, Thomas Green Clemson, so eloquently stated in his Will. We are so proud and fortunate to have been able to call Clemson’s 14th president one of our own.


Ann Hunter


— Ann W. Hunter ’80, ’82
President, Clemson Alumni Association

Jim Barker has been the only president I have known since I came to Clemson in 2003. He has set the bar very high for future presidents and has certainly brought Clemson to a higher level academically, athletically — in all areas.

He is a class man who has been a joy to work with. I will be forever indebted to him for supporting my hire as head coach in 2008. He has treated me with respect in every way since I have been here.

What I will remember most about Jim Barker is his genuine love for Clemson.


Dabo Swinney


— Dabo Swinney
Clemson Head Football Coach

Cappy and Sweet, you’re our favorite Tigers! Thank you for teaching us cadence count, that orange and purple are the best colors, and for letting us hitch rides at the First Friday Parades. We’ve loved our many adventures in the President’s House, like counting tigers and camping out in our tiger tent in the living room. We’re saving chairs for you at the tailgate. We love you!
Love,
Madeline and Eliza Barker
Granddaughters

We would just like to thank you both for introducing us to so many friendly students over the years. You are so right when you say Clemson students are the best! We sure are going to miss our morning walks on campus with you guys.
Love,
Mookie and Macs
Barker pups-in-residence

P.S. We really are SO SORRY for chasing after that skunk we found in front of the P & A Building one morning. We had no idea he would spray us and that it would take a week full of baths to get us clean!

President Barker was never just a figurehead — he was an active participant in every Clemson student’s experience. Few university presidents have improved their school’s academics so remarkably, and even fewer have earned the genuine love and respect of its students.

At the Clemson vs. Furman game this past year, the crowd bellowed, as usual, in coordination with the Tiger’s pushups. After a fairly long count, the Tiger unexpectedly stood up, threw off his headpiece and revealed an impassioned President Barker. Upon recognizing him, the stadium’s roar soared because we all knew that he shared our love, devotion and pride for Clemson.

At my ring ceremony, President Barker showed his unyielding devotion to Clemson students once again. I had always heard that there is something sacred about a Clemson ring ceremony; after 90 hard-earned hours we would walk with our fellow classmates to receive that famous and celebrated Clemson ring. Unfortunately, we knew that President Barker had recently received emergency surgery and assumed he would not be able to present our rings. However, as he had throughout my entire Clemson experience, he proved that Clemson students were his first priority. As he presented me with my ring, he leaned over and said, “We’re proud of you,” and I, along with the rest of the students receiving their rings April 8, 2013, knew that he truly was.


Ashton Lee


— Ashton Lee
Senior, Clemson University


When I think of the Barkers’ tenure at Clemson, I am struck by their family approach. They always would speak at orientation programs and offer their home, their dogs and even themselves to anyone feeling a little homesick. I believe Clemson is such a happy place because you do not feel like you’re at an institution. There is a constant feel of home, no matter where your other home may be. I truly feel the Barkers were at the center of this warm, caring atmosphere.

On a personal note, they arrived for move-in day for my daughter Libby, and then a couple of years later for my daughter Hannah. President Barker gave them each a signed miniature Clemson banner and told them to keep it with them till graduation for luck. Right from day one it was a personal, magnetic approach that made our whole family feel like we were home. The Barkers’ genuine love of the place was transparent and infectious, and thankfully will continue to live at Clemson.

— Bart Proctor
Parent of Libby ’13 and Hannah (sophomore)

Cadence Count: The Barker Presidency

For 14 years, James F. Barker ’70 has served as Clemson’s 14th president and an ardent cheerleader for the University. Under his leadership, the University has grown substantially while still maintaining a firm grip on its identity and sense of family.

Here are just a few of the numbers that tell the story.

The presidency of Jim Barker … by the numbers.