WVU president Clements hired away by Clemson

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West Virginia University president James Clements today was named president of Clemson University after serving at the helm of WVU since 2009.

In a letter to the WVU community released after Clemson made the announcement this morning, Mr. Clements said, "I wasn't looking to leave WVU. 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, (wife) Beth and I decided that this is an opportunity that we couldn't pass up."

Mr. Clements' departure date has not yet been set.

His appointment was announced by Clemson board chairman David Wilkins, who said the board "is convinced we got the very best person to be our next president," calling him the "right fit" for the South Carolina institution, which has 20,768 students.

Mr. Clements then took the podium, expressing enthusiasm for all things Clemson. On introducing his family, he said, "We're thrilled to be part of the Clemson family."

In his letter to WVU, Mr. Clements expressed his thanks and honor he feels for serving the university and cited various achievements at the university, which has 29,466 students at its main campus.

"We have broken numerous records, including many in enrollment, fund-raising and research," he said. "We have been blessed to have alumni and friends who give so much to make a difference in the lives of others. The support through private giving has been overwhelming," he wrote.

He noted growth in the hospital system and the extension program. While he said there "much more to do in terms of salaries and benefits for faculty and staff," he said "critical gains" were made in providing more competitive salaries. He said the university is in the midst of $1 billion in construction projects, including improved research labs and student housing. He also noted WVU's acceptance in the Big 12 athletic conference.

WVU board chairman James W. Dailey II also issued a statement, saying, "Since the hiring of Jim Clements in 2009, West Virginia University has experienced unprecedented success in many areas private giving, enrollment, academics, research funding, health care, community service, economic development and so much more. Of course, he will say it is because he has had a great team, but it's more than that. Jim is a natural-born leader someone who understands the higher education climate."

He said Clemson is getting a "national-caliber leader."

Mr. Dailey said interim leadership plans will be announced in the "coming days and weeks."

At Clemson, Mr. Clements will replace James Barker, who plans to retire in April after 17 years as president. Mr. Barker will stay as faculty in the School of Architecture.

Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955. First Published November 11, 2013 11:23 AM

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