James P. Clements, current provost and vice president for academic affairs at Towson University in Maryland, was named president-elect of West Virginia University today (March 6) and will become the University’s 23rd president, effective June 30, 2009. ( * VIDEO MESSAGE * )
A respected higher education leader, Clements, 44, was elected by members of the WVU Board of Governors with the consent of the Higher Education Policy Commission . His salary has been set at $450,000.
The appointment concludes a national search, launched last fall and involving consultation with faculty, students, staff, alumni, parents and others.
BOG Chairwoman Carolyn Long, who also served on the search committee, announced the appointment.
“This is certainly a wonderful day for West Virginia University,” Long said. “Today we welcome a new University leader who is ready to embark on some exciting initiatives and take on the challenges before us.
“Jim Clements is an accomplished and stellar higher education leader and just a wonderful person,” she said. “He has grown to love WVU and the Mountaineers in a very short time, and he shares the Board’s vision of maintaining and growing academic and research excellence as well as expanding our extraordinary service mission to the state, nation and the world.
“His interests extend to the entire University, to our students, employees, alumni, friends, donors and various constituents as well as our academic, outreach, research and economic development endeavors,” Long added. “He is forward-thinking, sincere, scholarly, personable and totally devoted to and passionate about leading this University forward.
“He is the best fit to lead this University at this time,” she said.
Clements will take over the post from C. Peter Magrath , who has been serving in an interim capacity since last July.
“Beth and I, and our family, are excited and honored by today’s decision,” Clements, a native of Arlington, Va., told a crowd of faculty, staff, students and others who gathered at Erickson Alumni Center for the announcement.
“I offer my sincere thanks to the members of the Board of Governors for the confidence you have shown in me, and I look forward to putting my background to work for this University as we continue the goals of the 2010 strategic plan and start building toward a 2020 plan,” Clements said.
He added, “During this process, I have not only had a chance to meet with the search committee and Board but the people who make up this great University, and you all have one very important thing in common: You love this place and are full of energy and ideas. I can’t wait to call Morgantown and WVU home.”
Clements said he will, in the coming months, begin the transition process by listening, learning and team building with WVU’s faculty, staff, administrators, students, community and state and congressional leaders.
“We will all need to work together to keep enrollment healthy, build on our scholarship and financial aid support, offer additional international and service experiences, continue our focus on research, and make sure state and private funding is a priority,” he added.
Clements thanked his family, wife Beth and four children, all in attendance.
“West Virginia University is one of the great land-grants,”he said. “We have enormous potential. I welcome the challenges before us and seek your support and guidance.”
Magrath congratulated Clements, saying, “I extend my personal congratulations to Jim and his family on your selection as the 23rd president of West Virginia University. I came here less than a year ago, energized by the challenges and qualities of this University. I fell in love with WVU and the many dedicated and talented individuals who work here and around the state. I believe Jim brings the same awe and dedication to this office, and I offer my full cooperation and support both during the transition and in the years to come.”
Former WVU president and chair of the presidential search committee Gene Budig added, “Dr. Clements is a driven innovator who has a record of reaching out to faculty, staff and students. He has a deep understanding of where colleges and universities must go to meet societal needs.”
Clements, who visited campus Thursday, has been provost at Towson University, the second largest public university in Maryland, since 2007. Under his leadership, Towson has developed scholarship and student support programs that have led to an impressive 7 percent increase in minority student applicants and 16 percent increase in minority students admitted; an 83 percent freshman retention rate; a 65 percent six-year graduation rate; and a total increase of 36 percent in externally funded research in the past two years.
Prior to becoming provost, he was vice president for economic and community outreach at Towson from 2004-07 and executive director for the Center for Applied Information Technology from 1999-2003. He also chaired the Department of Computer and Information Sciences from 1997-99, where he has been a faculty member since 1989.
As vice president for economic and community outreach, he forged stronger links between the university and community, ultimately securing more than $50 million in external funding during a four-year period.
Clements has a bachelors degree in computer science and masters and doctoral degrees in operations analysis from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, as well as a masters degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University. His project management textbook, in its fourth edition, is used in more than 20 countries and is published in four languages.
He is married to Beth Clements, and they have four children: Tyler, 16; twin daughters Hannah and Maggie, 13; and Grace, 8.
During campus forums Thursday, Clements talked about being a first-generation college graduate from a working class family, whose parents put aside savings so that he and his brother and two sisters could attend college.
“I know how college transforms lives,” he said, “and I never want a lack of finances to prevent a student who wants to go to college from doing so.”
In describing himself, Clements said people know and trust him.
“I’m a team builder who works well with everybody,” he said.
As an example, he was asked by the chancellor to co-direct the last presidential search at Towson when the former president resigned after only nine months on the job. He also led the presidential transition team and Towson’s 2010 strategic plan.
Speaking of the pride and passion alumni and others have for WVU, he said, “People I’ve met who either go to WVU or went to )WVU are crazy about this place; they care deeply about it,” adding that he wasn’t looking for another position, but when the WVU opening came along, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“This is a place we truly want to be,” he said, noting WVU’s rich history and academic reputation.
Describing his decision-making style, Clements said his job is not to make popular decisions, but to make the right decisions with the proper input and then communicate why those decisions were made.
He stressed the need to drive down the student-to-faculty ratio at WVU by making an investment in more faculty and providing more flexibility in their classroom workload that allows for more research, service and grant writing. These are serious strategic decisions that will need further discussion, he said.
“I plan to listen,” Clements said. “I don’t have all the answers, so I will want a lot of input. Why? Because it’s our University.”
In announcing Clements appointment, Long expressed special thanks to the search committee for its dedication and commitment and for the helpful input from faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members during the campus process.
“I especially want to thank the members of the search committee for the many hours they put into the screening, interviewing and consultation process,” she said. “And I also appreciate the input from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community as a result of our campus forums. All of this information proved extremely valuable to the Board in our final selection of Jim Clements as WVU’s 23rd president.
The Clements family currently resides in West Friendship, Md.
For comments from state and University leaders, photos, video, curriculum vitae and more, go to http://presidentialsearch.wvu.edu.