CLEMSON, SC — In what is expected to be his final speech to faculty as president of Clemson University, James F. Barker said Tuesday that “the idea of Clemson” continues to evolve just as it was evolving when he took office 14 years ago, and his successor must be ready to embrace change while holding true to the traditions of South Carolina’s land grant institution.
“Think about it,” he said during the convocation kicking off the university’s 121st academic year. “Clemson exists explicitly to be an agent of change. After all, what was Thomas Green Clemson’s great cry? ‘Our country is wretched in the extreme,’ he wrote.”
Barker, who announced four months ago his intention to step down and return to the architecture department as a faculty member, noted the economic struggles that have plagued South Carolina and the nation in recent years.
“We need education and research to solve problems, to bring prosperity,” he said. “Clemson must deliver this much-needed transformation.
“So a commitment to bold, even radical change is a true Clemson tradition.”
Clemson’s board of trustees has begun a search for a new president but Barker has pledged to remain in the office until a successor is in place, which is expected to be sometime within the upcoming academic year.
Classes for fall semester start Wednesday.