Jim Barker has worn almost every hat possible in his almost five decades as a member of the Clemson family – student, athlete, alumnus, teacher, dean, parent, fan and president.
Of these varied roles, the most important was as a student.
“I often tell people I learned everything from plumbing to poetry in architecture school, and I use every bit of that knowledge as president of Clemson University,” Barker has said.
A 1970 Clemson graduate, Barker was named president in 1999 with a mandate from the Board of Trustees to lead Clemson into the top ranks of American universities. At his inaugural address in April 2000, he said: “I am convinced that there is no university in American stronger than Clemson when we are ‘One Clemson.’ A united Clemson is unstoppable.”
During the “One Clemson” decade that followed, the university harnessed the competitive, determined spirit of the Clemson family to transform itself from a respected state institution into one of the nation’s finest public universities.
Clemson climbed into the Top 25 public universities in the US News guide to “America’s Best Colleges.” The University has been recognized for value, affordability and return on investment by Kiplinger’s, Smart Money and Bloomberg Businessweek magazines.
During the decade undergraduate applications soared, Ph.D. enrollment doubled, research awards topped $1.25 billion and more than 140 grants and contracts and 60 gifts of $1 million or more were received. Despite severe cuts in its permanent, basic state appropriations, Clemson protected its academic core and competed successfully for the lion’s share of the state’s highest-achieving students, the Palmetto Fellows, and for tens of millions in state funding for endowed chairs and research infrastructure.
Clemson attracts top students and faculty. Fifty percent of the 2009 freshman class graduated in the top 10% of their high school classes, and 31 Clemson faculty members received prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER awards during the decade.
The University provides an unmatched educational experience – intellectual development – for students, and research-driven economic development for the state of South Carolina.
Recent highlights also include:
Jim Barker is a leading voice in higher education for South Carolina and the nation. He served for four years on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, three of them as Chair, and has also chaired the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). He delivered a keynote address on CU-ICAR at a 2009 symposium in Washington D.C. on Global Best Practices in science and technology parks sponsored by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and at the Society for College and University Planning in October 2010.
For his leadership, Barker has received the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, and The Cliff’s Business Person-of-the-Year Award from Greenville Magazine. He has also been awarded honorary doctorates from the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, and Mars Hill College.
A native of Kingsport, Tennessee, Barker received his bachelor of arts degree from Clemson in 1970 and his master of architecture and urban design degree in 1973 from Washington University in St. Louis, which also recognized him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and the Institute for Urban Design.
As Clemson’s President, Barker remains committed to the classroom. Each spring, he is part of a team that teaches an undergraduate course exploring “a sense of place” in architecture, literature and history.
In his spare time, what there is of it, he runs and maintains the daily fitness regimen of a life-long athlete. He is widely acclaimed for his pen-and-ink drawings of campus buildings and has recently taken up watercolor painting.
Jim Barker and his wife Marcia have two sons, Britt and Jacob, a daughter-in-law Rita Bolt Barker, and two granddaughters Madeline and Eliza.