MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University's Board of Governors plans to begin the search process for an interim leader "in the coming days and weeks" after President James Clements was named Monday to the same post at Clemson University.
Clements, who has been at WVU since 2009, appeared at Clemson shortly after 11 a.m. Monday to accept the job. He becomes that university's 15th president and will succeed James F. Barker as leader of the South Carolina institution. Barker has agreed to remain as president until Clements takes over, Clemson Board of Trustees Chairman David Wilkins said.
Following the announcement, praise came from across the WVU campus for the work Clements has done.
"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," WVU Board of Governors Chairman James Dailey said. "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 is committed to excellence. He stands for integrity and is a champion for this university and its diverse audiences - from students and their parents, to faculty and staff, to donors and funders, to city, state and federal lawmakers, to opinion leaders, to our state's citizens and others. ... On behalf of the WVU Board of Governors and a grateful university, we wish Jim and Beth - and the entire Clements family - all the best as they transition to a new home at Clemson University. The Clemson Tigers are getting a national-caliber leader who, we know, will always carry the Mountaineer spirit in his heart."
Michele Wheatly, WVU's provost and vice president for academic affairs, praised Clements' commitment to "raising academic standards, improving student success and establishing WVU as a leader in faculty research."
"It has been my privilege to work with him on these initiatives. I wish him and his family nothing but the best in his new endeavor, and look forward to continuing to raise the bar as we move (WVU) forward," she said.
Bob Reynolds, chair of the WVU Foundation board of directors, and Wayne King, president and CEO of the foundation, lauded Clements' fundraising efforts.
"WVU has excelled in many areas under the leadership of Jim Clements. Included in those successes are many new records set in private fundraising. The WVU Foundation has enjoyed a great working relationship with Jim, and we wish him, Beth and the entire Clements' family the very best," Reynolds said.
"During President Clements' tenure at WVU, private fundraising reached new heights. Jim also has played a key role in the success we are experiencing in our current comprehensive campaign. We appreciate his commitment to development, and wish him and his family the very best moving forward," King added.
WVU Student Government Association President Ryan Campione also praised Clements' willingness to work with students.
"He is extremely student-focused. If there was ever an issue, he always made it a priority to listen to students. He always led WVU in a positive direction," Campione said.