While most observers were still absorbing the somewhat surprising news that West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck was not leaving for a similar job at the University of Texas in Austin, it was WVU President Jim Clements’ announcement that took most people by surprise.
On Monday, Clements announced he will leave WVU to accept the presidency at Clemson University in South Carolina.
Clements came to Morgantown in 2009, in the midst of the turmoil surrounding the university from the Heather Bresch degree scandal that cost then-WVU President Mike Garrison his job.
This was a massive issue that caused a deep divide between the administration and the faculty. However, in his somewhat short tenure, Clements has been able to win support for his vision from both faculty and administration, alike, as well as the state’s political leaders. His success in fundraising has been unprecedented, and he leaves the university on a solid financial footing. The school has enjoyed enrollment increases and recently welcomed its largest freshman class in history. In addition, during the past two years, WVU doubled the number of first-time freshman international students attending.
Clements has surrounded himself with smart, talented people, including the aforementioned Luck, who guided the move from the disintegrating Big East Conference into the Big 12 Conference.
Clements said he was not seeking another job, but his is a name on the rise in the academic world. Despite his and his wife’s professed love for WVU, it would have been only a matter of time before some other school would have successfully wooed Clements away from Morgantown. Clemson was an opportunity “too good to pass up,” he said in an open letter to the WVU community. His wife has family in the area, and her brothers are Clemson graduates.
Clements has been an excellent leader at WVU and we wish him luck in the future. We hope another energetic leader of Clements’ caliber can be found who will continue the work of moving the university forward.