Clemson President search to begin

04/20/2013 12:00 AM

04/19/2013 7:44 PM

Members of a search committee that will find a new president for Clemson University are expected to meet early next week to begin putting together ideas on what kind of leader the institution needs, the chairman of the board said Friday.

The committee will follow a deliberate process to develop the criteria, with input from faculty, alumni and other constituent groups, said board Chairman David Wilkins.

“That will take some work,” he said. “We’re going to do a very thorough job of coming up with that job description and have a public notice.”

Jim Barker, who has led Clemson for 14 years, announced this week that he is ready to retire as soon as the trustees put a successor in office.

Wilkins said it’s too early to discuss details of what kind of person the board will be trying to find to guide Clemson through the next steps of its evolution.

“There’s a process to get that (job description) and come up with the criteria,” Wilkins said. “But obviously we’re looking for the best fit for Clemson University.

“We’ve been blessed with an outstanding president for 14 years and we obviously want to continue that.”

Three other trustees contacted Friday said they weren’t ready to talk specifics about what they will be looking for in Clemson’s next president.

“The easy answer is another Jim Barker,” said Joe Swann of Greenville, a member of the search committee. “But we haven’t met to start laying it out.”

Wilkins said he has named Smyth McKissick of Easley as chairman of the search committee. Other members are Bill Hendrix of Kiawah Island, Kim Wilkerson of Cayce, Ronnie Lee of Aiken, and Louis Lynn of Columbia.

Wilkins, of Greenville, said he will serve as an ex-officio member.

The group will discuss possible search firms that could be contracted to help find candidates for the job, Wilkins said.

He was in the process of setting up a meeting of the committee but hadn’t got a schedule firmed up by Friday afternoon.

Because of Barker’s willingness to stay on until a new president is in place, the board won’t set a timetable for completing the process, Wilkins said.

Barker, who had quintuple bypass heart surgery earlier this year, said he wants to return to the classroom as a professor. The 65-year-old Clemson alumnus said his health wasn’t a factor in his decision to step down.

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