Clemson University found a new president Monday who says he already has a little orange in him.
My wife and talked about getting to Clemson 20 years ago, said James Clements, the West Virginia University president who will succeed Jim Barker at the upstate school in January. We heard how special it is, and we think it has a world-class faculty.
Clements in-laws donated money to Clemsons golf team clubhouse, and his wifes two brothers graduated from Clemson and have homes around Lake Keowee. Much of Beth Clements family lives in Georgia and North Carolina, not far from the Clemson campus.
Clements also has been a Clemson fan for years. He has followed Tiger sports since the 1981 national football title. And he used Barkers leadership ideas, including his 10-year strategic model, at West Virginia University.
Clements said he is heading to Clemson, which is smaller school than West Virginia, at the same salary as he was paid in Morgantown for a chance to be closer to his wifes family and help build on Clemsons recent successes. He added a mentor he met in Maryland was former Tiger baseball player Mike Gill, a member of the presidents advisory board at Clemson.
We loved our time at West Virginia, Clements said of his four-year-stint. This is where we wanted to end up.
Barker is retiring as president of South Carolinas second-largest public university after 14 years at its helm.
Hell be a great fit, said Barker, who will remain a faculty member in Clemsons architecture school.
Clements, who becomes Clemsons 15th president, will earn $775,000 a year from state and university foundation sources. He earned the same salary at West Virginia this year.
Clements will be the highest-paid S.C. public college president. Barker makes $471,200 a year. University of South Carolina president Harris Pastides, who leads the states largest school, is paid $681,200.
Pastides said Monday that he did not know Clements well but looks forward to having a speed-dial relationship, where the two presidents can call each other any time. Both are active in their college trade organization, the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities.
I know hes well versed on national issues affecting universities, and I look forward to hearing his views on South Carolinas unique version of those issues, Pastides said.
Pastides also said he will send Clements an invitation to a special event on the Saturday after Thanksgiving on the USC campus -- the annual football clash between the Gamecocks and Tigers.
Clements helped West Virginia set records in private fundraising, enrollment and research funding, while overseeing nearly $1 billion dollars in capital improvement projects, Clemson said.
Clemson trustees chose Clements from 83 applicants. The school did not release the names of other finalists.
School leaders said they were pleased to nab the leader of a large university who understands how to navigate challenges from the presidents office.
Hes got all the credentials, Clemson trustees chairman David Wilkins said. Hes been a success and done great things at West Virginia University. ... He engages people well. Hes got tons of energy.
West Virginia has 29,466 students -- more than 40 percent more than Clemsons 20,768.
If youre measuring Clemson on quantity rather than quality, youre missing the point, Barker said.
Clemson stood 21st in the latest U.S. News and World Report ranking of public colleges. West Virginia ranked 94th.
Clements will work on finishing Clemsons $1 billion fundraising campaign, which has collected $728 million thus far.
Barker also thinks Clements should concentrate on improving Clemsons graduate and research programs to build a stronger intellectual environment after years of emphasis on undergraduate programs.