One year ago, Gov. Nikki Haley and the Legislature asked seven individuals from across the state to become the new Board of Trustees for S.C. State University, an important higher-education resource that was facing several serious challenges. I was honored to be invited to be one of those appointees and to serve as chair.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges had put S.C. State on probation twice, leaving it in real jeopardy of losing its accreditation. And S.C. State’s financial condition was in shambles.
Now, one year later, S.C. State has balanced the budget, exceeded enrollment goals, increased alumni giving and faculty grants and — most importantly — restored its accreditation.
This was the result of a collaborative effort. Interim President W. Franklin Evans and the entire S.C. State family contributed significantly to its success. Having put his own future on hold for a year while he addressed the needs of S.C. State, Dr. Evans has resigned as interim president to pursue his personal and professional goals. We are grateful for his service and wish him every success.
S.C. State needs as its president a proven leader who can make certain that we fulfill the commitments we made in securing accreditation and further strengthening the school’s financial condition. We have been very fortunate to find that person, James E. Clark.
James Clark knows how to build and lead teams to success. He has had an outstanding career in business, a long-time involvement with higher education in South Carolina and a close association with S.C. State.
His distinguished business career includes being vice president of a $1 billion division of AT&T that he converted from a money-losing division into the most profitable division in AT&T’s computer business. A graduate of M.I.T. and the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, Mr. Clark also worked with General Electric, Gillette and Exxon International.
His commitment to higher education and specifically S.C. State is equally impressive, having served on the Benedict College Board of Trustees for 18 years. He has been chair of the University of South Carolina Research Foundation for three terms. And he has been a remarkably valuable member of the S.C. State Board this past year.
I know James Clark is committed to strengthening the learning opportunities of every S.C. State student, whether it’s in the classroom or through practical real-world experiences. And he is committed to working collaboratively with S.C. State’s outstanding faculty, staff and alumni. After all, team building is one of this leader’s greatest strengths.
James Clark did not seek the job of president. But it became increasingly clear to our board that we had in our midst the ideal individual to lead the institution at this critical time. We elected him unanimously and with great enthusiasm as the 12th president of S.C. State University.
James Clark is a person of strength, accomplishment and integrity. He has already hit the ground running. He has great clarity on what needs to be done and how to do it. And he is committed to an open, collaborative process that is grounded in trust and a passion for S.C. State.
S.C. State has come a long way in just one year. With James Clark’s leadership and the engagement of the entire S.C. State family, an even brighter future lies ahead.
Mr. Way is a Charleston businessman and former S.C. Commerce secretary; contact him at cway@ thebeachcompany.com.